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The early morning air chilled Clarke's skin as she left Niylah's trading post. Sunrise wouldn't be for another couple of hours and she knew if she left now she could make it back to her camp in time for first light.

The dream that roused her from Niylah's bed still lapped at the edge of her mind and Clarke could feel the bile rising from her stomach again. She could never remember the exact details, but she knew it always started with the white walls of Mt Weather. She also knew it always ended with the same walls dripping with the blood of the Mountain Men as the sounds of children echoed all around her.

Truthfully, everything that had happened since landing on the ground had felt like a dream, a never ending nightmare of indiscernible proportion. A part of her feared that maybe the past few weeks were a dream, that maybe she was still locked in a cell on the Ark waiting for release. Maybe the oxygen was finally failing, and this was her slowly dying.

Pulling her shirt away from her shoulder Clarke grimaced as the claw shaped cuts the cat had left behind rubbed against the coarse fabric. It would need treating when she got back to her temporary home. Niylah had cleaned it as best she could, but in her haste to bed the girl, Clarke hadn't given her the chance to finish dressing it.

It hadn't been her intent to have sex with Niylah and she frowned at the thought of the woman waking up to find her gone. Niylah was kind, and trusting, and Clarke knew the other woman deserved so much more than she could ever offer her. From the fist moment Clarke had walked into the trading post all those weeks ago, her freshly dyed hair a tangle of leaves and twigs, her clothes torn and her skin barely visible under the layer of grime that covered her, Niylah had offered her nothing but kindness and understanding.

A smile tugged at the corner of her lip as she remembered dropping three dead squirrels on the counter. The other woman had quirked her eyebrow at them before asking Clarke what she wanted in return. Clarke was sure the fur Niylah gave her was worth far more than those three skinny dead animals, but her desperation for warmth had her taking it without question.

The smile quickly dropped into a frown again because all Clarke had managed to do with that kindness was to use it for her own need to feel something. She had tainted another life.

Taking a final breath, and hoisting her bag back onto her shoulder Clarke began her journey back. In her head she went over her path again, it would only taken a couple of hours to get back, maybe three if she stopped at the stream to wash herself first.

She didn't quite make it though, and she was only a few steps away from Niylah's door when her breath caught at the sudden feel of a cold blade pressing into her throat.

Her mind quickly whirled into life, analysing the situation as best she could. A bounty hunter. Probably. Most likely the same two that had been looking for her the previous night. Clarke wasn't dead yet though, which told her one thing; they needed her alive.

"Hello Wanheda." And of course Anya would be the one to find her. "Move."

Another blade pressed into the small of her back and Clarke stumbled forwards, quickly realising she had no choice but to follow Anya's directions away from Niylah's hut and into the woods.

"What do you want Anya?" The only reply she received was the twisting of the knife at her back and a kick to her shoe.

They were barely past the tree line when Anya swung her around, slamming her back into rough bark. The wound on her shoulder smarted uncomfortably, and Clarke could already feel the warmth of fresh blood.

The other woman's eyes bore into her own, smudges of war paint across her face and Clarke couldn't help gulping as the cool metal of her knife pushed into her throat again. "You're being hunted."

"By who?" There was no reply and Clarke knew it was futile, but she still struggled against the binds Anya started to wrap around her wrists.

"Everyone." Anya answered bluntly. Clarke's eyes immediately looked up from the other woman's hands to try and read her expression, only to be disappointed when she remained as unreadable as ever.

"Lexa?" The name was practically snarled, and once again she could feel her stomach churning with memories of the Mountain.

"She's not the one you should be worried about." Anya's voice strained as she tightened the knot against Clarke's skin. "Move."

Before Clarke could comprehend what was happening she was being roughly manhandled away from the tree, and forced into step behind the other woman.

"And who exactly should I be worried about?"

"Az Kwin." The Ice Queen. Memories of Lexa's story about Costia flashed across Clarke's mind and an uncontrollable anger rose in her.

"I am not Lexa's." She argued back, tugging on the rope and forcing Anya to stop.

Clarke wouldn't be Lexa's. Not ever. Not after the traitor had abandoned her on the side of the Mountain. It sickened Clarke to think the Ice Nation's Queen was after her because she belonged to the Commander. Because she was her weakness.

A humourless laugh came from the grounder in front of her. "The Ice Queen wants the blood of the Wanheda for herself. She wants your power sky girl."

"What power?" Clarke asked in confusion. Anya stopped again, and Clarke watched her curiously as she started to rip away part of her shirt.

"The power to command death itself." Before Clarke could even protest the absurdity of it, Anya was spinning around and forcing the ripped material of her shirt into her mouth. "Enough talking."

A sharp pull of the rope had her following Anya deeper into the woods. She was being taken back to the Commander, and Clarke's heart started to hammer at the thought of it, because she wasn't ready. Clarke wasn't going to let the grounder drag her back into the world she had spent the last three months running away from without a fight. She had to get away from Anya.

Clarke's first opportunity for escape came when they reached the shore of a winding stream. She started by falling behind, just enough to force Anya to start dragging her. The grounder had left her gagged for the whole day, no food, no water, so it wouldn't be out of the realms of possibility for Clarke to collapse from exhaustion. She was just a weak "sky girl" after all. So that was exactly what Clarke did.

After a few more staggered steps, Clarke let her body become complete boneless as it fell to the floor, grunting as her knees hit the hard pebbled ground.

The rope around her wrists bit into the flesh as Anya tried to drag her along regardless, and a part of her feared the stubborn woman might just drag her the whole way back. "Get up." Anya tried to move her along again, pulling the rope tight before finally letting go.

Clarke could hear her approaching, the pebbles shifting underneath her feet with every movement. It took all her concentration not to flinch when Anya's boot met her side, roughly shifting her onto her back. "Still as weak as ever." She heard a scoff and the mocking tone enter the other woman's voice. "The great Wanheda. Still human after all."

Clarke listened carefully as Anya let out a string of disgruntled curses, focusing on the volume of her voice and the crunching of the rocks as she moved away. Cautiously she opened her eyes and tilted her head towards the stream, her eyes focusing on Anya's crouched form.

As silently as possible, Clarke pushed herself to her feet and carefully crossed the distance between them. The sound of the river would mask her approach, but she still watched her every step, deliberately placing her feet to avoid the looser looking rocks.

Waiting, she watched as Anya filled the canteen in her hand, and she prepared the rope, twisting the frayed material around her knuckles.

Just as Anya began to stand again, Clarke launched herself onto the unsuspecting woman's back, pulling the rope around her neck and holding on for dear life. A chocked sound came from her now constricted throat; and Clarke felt one of her hands grasping onto her, short nails digging into her skin.

Anya stumbled forwards into the water, her breaths wheezing through her constricted airway, but Clarke still held on. Even when Anya fell face first into the water she continued her assault, falling on top of the woman's body into the stream. It only took a beat for Clarke to gain her footing, and she used the leverage to hold Anya down.

She wouldn't let Anya take her back to Lexa, she wasn't going to let her take her back to that betrayer.

The body beneath her thrashed in the water and Clarke pulled tighter and tighter on the rope in her hands until the movement finally stopped. Even as she panted for breath, Clarke held the rope for a moment longer before loosening her grip.

Anya was dead.

A sorrow Clarke wasn't expecting started to bloom inside her chest, and her eyes started to burn. Anya was the woman who had brought the Commander to her, the woman that had sent her off down this twisted rabbit hole of emotion for Lexa.

The gag popped out of her mouth easily, and Clarke flexed her jaw to relieve the stiffness from keeping it open for so long. She couldn't leave Anya here.

Clarke didn't have the chance to think about how she was going to dispose of her though because the seemingly dead body was suddenly springing to life underneath her.

Clarke wasn't quick enough to block the elbow Anya slammed back into her ribs. She barely even moved back, but the wind was firmly knocked out of her and Clarke wasn't prepared for Anya's arm shooting up and grappling onto her. There was a sudden sensation of flying as Clarke found herself flipped over the half drowned woman's shoulder and into the water. Now it was her turn to thrash, and she could just make out Anya's face through the swirling water in above her.

Clarke's lungs started to burn as she continued to struggle, her feet kicking helplessly, looking for any kind of footing to get her head above the water. It was as black dots began dancing across her vision that Anya finally relented, pulling sharply at the material on her shoulders until her head was back above the water line.

Air filled Clarke's oxygen deprived lungs, and her chest ached as she spluttered out the water that was still caught in her throat.

"Don't test me." Anya said breathlessly. The other woman was just as out of breath as Clarke was and they both sat kneeling in front of each other for a moment, both of them taking in equally deep gulps of air.

It was Anya that stood first, rubbing uncomfortably at the red line around her neck. The grounder was forcing Clarke to her feet a moment later and pushing her out of the stream. "Now move."

 Their wet clothes clung to them, and Clarke wanted to ask Anya to stop so they could both dry off because she knew the other woman's clothes must have been weighing heavy on her too.

The warmth of the sun had dried all but the thickest parts of her now blonde hair though and Clarke mourned the loss of her red locks. They were meant to hide who she was. No one was looking for the red haired grounder - no one except Lexa and her ever loyal general at least.

Anya hadn't spoken to her since forcing her out the water and Clarke wondered if it was because of the rawness she must have been feeling in her throat. She had almost killed the grounder, again. All because she didn't want to face Lexa and Clarke didn't want to acknowledge the guilt she felt at her attack.

It wasn't like the first time. Back then, in front of the drop ship, she thought she had been fighting for her life. Now Clarke was just fighting to stop herself from having to face the consequence of her actions at the Mountain.

A grunt of pain left her throat as Anya pushed her to the ground, her shoulder colliding painfully with the dead tree branch behind her.

"Quiet." Anya's voice husked. With a gentleness Clarke didn't expect, Anya pulled her forwards until she could see over the branch. There were three people in the distance and she could just make out the white war paint smeared across the closest man's face. "Ice Nation scouts. Come, we'll back track, go around-"

This was opportunity number two to escape. Clarke knew about the animosity between the Ice Nation and Trikru. Anya would undoubtedly have to fight the three scouts. In the meantime she could escape into the trees behind her. The rope around her wrists wasn't thick, it wouldn't take Clarke long to cut through it, then she could flee into the wilds and out of Lexa's clutches again.

So she screamed.

Anya looked at her with disparaging eyes as she continued to scream through the gag. "I'm tempted to use your thick skull to kill them." There was a bag attached to Anya's belt loop, and truthfully Clarke hadn't paid much attention to it, that was until Anya was pulling it off and covering her head with it. "That's better."

She heard Anya take in a deep breath, and Clarke felt her own heart flutter with nerves because it sounded like Anya was nervous. With a single tug Clarke was on her feet and Anya was shouting across the distance in Trigedasleng. "This is Trikru territory, not Ice Nation."

"Soon this will be all Ice Nation." Clarke froze at the words, because maybe screaming was a mistake.

"Who is this?" It was a different voice, and through the loose weave of the bag, she could just make out silhouette of someone approaching.

"No one." Anya gripped onto her arm tightly. "A prisoner of the Commanders."

The bag was pulled off her head and Clarke blinked in surprise at the unrecognisable masked face in front of her.

"Wanheda?!" He stepped back, and through the slit in his mask Clarke could see the fear in scouts eyes. She would let herself analyse the way her stomach dropped at his fear later.

"We'll be set for life, take her." He quickly indicated towards one of the other scouts, and Clarke almost scoffed because he was clearly too scared to touch her himself.

"I can't let you do that." Anya's grip on her arm loosened, and Clarke bolted the second the rope dropped away from her other hand.

"I'll get her, kill the Trikru bitch." There was one of them behind her; Clarke could hear his heavy foot falls. She pressed on harder, forcing herself to run faster, desperate to make it to tree line.

The clash of steel sounded behind her, but she didn't dare look back, Anya could hold her own long enough for her to make her escape. Clarke only needed a few more seconds and she would be-

Clarke's body collapsed onto the ground, her cheek colliding and scraping painfully on the dirt that was now beneath her face. The dead unmoving weight on top of her told her the scout was dead, and Clarke quickly looked up to the sight of a dagger. Without thinking, she grabbed it stashing it beneath her body, ready to fight off whoever had killed the scout who now pinned her down.

The body was moved off her, and Clarke felt hands grabbing at her shoulders again. Spinning around, she stabbed the dagger blindly into her assailant's side and lifted her hands to strike them in the face. Except, Anya's strong arms parried the below, and Clarke found herself on the end of the other woman's dagger again. "We don't have to keep playing this game Clarke."

"You can't kill me, not when Lexa," The name burnt on her tongue again. "Wants me alive."

"There's still time for you to have an accident, sky girl." Pushing her away again, Clarke doesn't miss the grimace of pain on Anya's face. "Move."

They barely make it past the dead bodies of the scouts when Anya froze. Clarke heard it to, the distance sound of a horn and the other woman cursed. "We need to leave, now!"

This time, Clarke followed the grounder's lead without struggle, rushing behind her as they weaved across the field and towards the tree line on the opposite side. She could guess what was coming, and Clarke knew it wasn't going to end well for either of them if they were caught out in the open.

As they ran Clarke heard a new noise. The deep pounding of drums and Anya's own wild eyes looked at hers. Clarke had been right, and she was certain what she was hearing were war drums. Taking on three scouts was one thing, if the Ice Nation army was approaching she knew they would both be dead before they could state their purpose.

Even as they hit the tree line, Clarke continued to follow Anya, almost colliding into her back as she suddenly paused against a tree. Clarke's eyes widened at the amount of blood that coated the grounders hand as she held it against the tree.

The woman was looking for something, and Clarke watched her as she scoured the area, trying to gain her bearings. "This way." Anya tugged at the rope again and Clarke let her lead the way.

They hadn't been walking for more that a couple of minutes when Clarke spied the old stone structure ahead of them. The stairs in the centre dropped down into the ground and Clarke could feel her heart speeding up at the thought of being trapped underground again.

Just like the Mountain.

The need to flee from the Ice Nation's army quickly outweighed her own panic, and Clarke moved to walk down the ancient stairwell.

Before she could makes it past the first step, Anya was grabbing her shoulder, and Clarke flinched as the other woman's hand tightened on the increasingly sore panther wound. "Draw their attention this time, and we'll both end up dead." Anya's voice held a distinct tone of warning and Clarke nodded because she understood. There was escaping and then there was suicide. There would be other chances for her to flee that wouldn't end with both of them dying.

Anya pushed her down the stairs first and Clarke's eyes took in the dark room at the bottom of them. She wasn't sure what it had been in the old world - there was a tunnel of sorts at the back, rubble and dirt had collapsed in on it though, blocking whatever the passage had once led to.

The first thing Anya did was force her to sit against a pillar, and Clarke winced as her arms were pulled to her side, as the grounder rearranged the rope that had been binding her wrists. Anya did remove her gag though, and Clarke drank greedily from the canteen of water that was silently offered her.

Once Clarke had taken her fill from the canteen, Anya moved around the room without talking. Clarke watched her as she limped around gathering wood, placing more weight on the side that she hadn't stabbed. There was a fire burning minutes later and Clarke knew exactly what Anya was planning to do when she rested the blade of her dagger in the flames.

Without any warning, Anya stripped off her shirt, leaving her in just her chest bindings. Clarke would have looked away, but the thick black lines of the tattoo that covered her whole back had her eyes transfixed. The artist in her couldn't help appreciating the intricate pattern of swirls. She was silently amazed at the hours of pain staking work it must have taken to place them there.

"You're getting better, another inch and I would be dead." Anya muttered. Their fight in front of the drop ship, when Clarke had almost stabbed the grounder to death crossed her mind. "So much for Commander of Death."

Clarke didn't reply. That was what she was now. That was what the grounders saw her as. Four months ago, it had been "Princess", she had been harmless. Nobody could have seen what she would become.

"Now you chose to be quiet?" The other woman questioned. Looking up, Anya was facing her, and the doctor in Clarke wanted to tell her to stop poking at the cut on her stomach. "Was this meant to be revenge for the time I stabbed you?"

"You didn't stab me, you got in a lucky cut that's all." Clarke replied without thinking.

Anya let out a dry humourless laugh. "Always so difficult."

"Why are you taking me back to Lexa?" The question had been burning at her the whole day. She knew that was where Anya was taking her, but Clarke didn't understand why. Did Anya need to buy back the Commander's good graces? Was she going to be used as a bargaining chip in the coalition? There was another scenario, one that involved her safety and Lexa actually caring about her, but Clarke refused to let her thoughts linger on it for long.

"Probably so she can use your power sky girl." Clarke's blood ran cold.

"So you're taking me there for Lexa to kill me?" Of course the heartless bitch would want to kill her. She had abandoned her at the Mt Weather to die, so killing her with her own treacherous hands should be no problem.

Anya just shook her head at her. "You're more foolish than I thought, if you believe Heda would have you killed."

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" She questioned, her brow creasing in confusion because if Lexa didn't want her killed... If Lexa wanted to keep her alive-

"It means I'm tired of your whining." Anya's tone was cold and sharp, and Clarke couldn't help flinching at the sound of it. "Heda should just let the Az Kwin kill you."

"Thanks." She replied humourlessly.

"Maybe she would absorb your idiocy." Anya shifted her gaze away from her and Clarke watched as she picked up the glowing blade from the fire. It wasn't surprising to her that when Anya pushed the red hot metal to her skin, and the acrid smell of burning flesh filled the air, the woman barely flinched. Only a deep groan and the squinting of her eyes gave away her discomfort.

"The great Wanheda, the mountain slayer." Anya muttered, and whilst still holding the dagger she drew closer to Clarke before squatting down to look her in the eyes. "The lost little coward."

"I'm not a coward. Or did you miss the part where I slew the Mountain." The words made her feel sick. It wasn't just the guilty who had died that day.

"Then why did you run away from your people?" Anya accused.

Clarke wasn't a coward for leaving. She wasn't. She just didn't want to be around her people any more, she didn't want them to see what humanity she had sacrificed for them.

Turning the question around she glowered at Anya. "Why did your Commander take the coward's way out and abandon me at the Mountain?"

"For a coward, you talk as if you are brave." Forcing the gag back into Clarke's mouth, Anya stepped away from her again, apparently done with her talking. "You don't understand what Heda is willing to sacrifice for you."

If the make shift gag hadn't been forced back into her mouth she would have argued back. The Commander had sacrificed nothing for her, Clarke was the one who had sacrificed everything for her people. She could blame Lexa for their deaths all she wanted, but it was her sacrifice that had led to the blood of the innocent dripping from her hands. Lexa had sacrificed nothing but her thirst for revenge on the Mountain.

"There's someone coming, stay quiet." Anya pulled her shirt back on and Clarke tried to turn in her binds, desperate to see where the other woman had gone. She knew that Anya wouldn't abandon her, not when she had spent the whole day getting her here.

Footsteps sounded from the stairs and her body froze. She could hear them getting closed, and she preyed the sound of her heart thundering in her chest wasn't actually audible.

The best scenario was that they would recognise her and try to take her captive. Clarke could escape if they did that. The worst case was they could kill her on sight, no questions asked.

Preparing herself, Clarke drew her legs up, ready to kick out at the person behind her-


Her thoughts were completely disjointed because it was Bellamy in front of her. There were so many questions firing off in her mind and her eyes searched his face because this couldn't be real.

"Hey," His hand made contact with her face, stroking the hair back behind her ear. Clarke felt it, the rough pads of his finger, he was real. Ungagging her, he smiled. "I'll get you out of here."

The movement out the corner of her eye suddenly reminded her that Anya was still there. "Look out!"

Bellamy didn't stand a chance, and Anya effortlessly parried his gun away before he could get his finger near the trigger. Her blade going straight to his throat; and Clarke tried to pull the binds loose again.

"Anya no, no please don't!" Tears were already gathering in her eyes, her voice desperately pleading. Bellamy couldn't die because of her. "I'll do anything, please, Anya, Bellamy disabled the acid fog. He got us into the mountain."

The tears were about to spill down her cheeks when Anya's angry eyes looked into hers. "Fine."

"Thank you." She replied quietly. Clarke had barely even finished saying the words when Anya stabbed her dagger down hard into Bellamy's leg. His agonised cry echoed off the walls of the small room. Desperate to help him, Clarke pulled at her restraints again, the binds chafing painfully against her skin.

"Follow us and not even your role in the Mountain will save you." The butt of the grounders sword made contact with the side of Bellamy's head with a sickening crack, knocking him out immediately.

Untangling the ropes, Anya pulled Clarke's hands in front again, binding them together even tighter than before. Clarke's eyes didn't leave Bellamy though, and she studied his neck, trying to watch for a visible pulse.

"He's alive, now move, we're only a half days walk from Polis." Anya ordered, and Clarke heart thundered again as Anya dragged her towards the stairs. "Heda will answer your question soon enough."

Chapter Text

 Clarke strained to see through the loose weave of the bag Anya had placed back over her head. They were in a tunnel of some kind. She could smell the damp moss mixing with the scent of the burning torch she had seen Anya light before her head had been covered.

They were getting close, to what, Clarke wasn't sure, but the strange sound of metal grinding against metal had been slowly getting louder for the past ten minutes.

"Andreas, Pirro." Anya's voice shocked her, as did the sudden tug on the rope around her wrist bringing her to halt.

A gruff voice speaking in Trigedasleng had Clarke swiftly trying to translate as best she could. "Anya, a successful hunt I see."

"This is Wanheda?" Another deep voice exclaimed. "You are lucky to be alive."

"Hngh. She tried her best." Anya replied. Through the back, Clarke could just distinguish the sound of the woman raising her shirt. "Top floor, Heda is expecting us."

The men dropped into silence again. The sound of scrapping metal began gradually getting louder as something approached them from above.

"How is your child, Pirro?" Anya asked.

A short laugh echoed off the walls before the voice of the second man to greet them filled the air. "Marco refuses to let his hair grow. He says a warrior would never have such bright hair."

Anya scoffed. "Tell him when I found Wanheda she had taken to wearing her hair red."

"If I tell him red is the chosen colour of Wanheda I doubt he'll ever want to even trim it! You were wise not to have children, Andreas." The man Clarke assumed was called Pirro said gleefully.

"I think Lena may be with child." The other man replied. Even Clarke couldn't help smiling around the gag at the bashful happiness in the man's voice.

"I apologise if the child has red hair, but your wife was too beautiful my friend." Booming laughter bounced off the walls and Clarke even heard a restrained chortle from the woman next to her.

A moment later a loud clunk sounded from above them. Once again, Anya tugged the rope around Clarke's wrists forcing her forwards.

"No stopping, straight up." Anya ordered, continuing to pull Clarke along behind her.

The blonde could just about make out the sight of the enclosed room they were walking towards. A panicked realisation washed over her. Anya was putting her in a cell, she imprisoning her. Clarke couldn't stand the thought of being kept captive again and she started to thrash against her bindings. As the room came even closer, she twisted her body, trying desperately to hook her feet onto where she thought the side of the enclosure was. She didn't have the chance to gain any leverage though. Anya was already pushing at her back and forcing her into the room.

"Calm down. We'll be there shortly." Anya was still with her and Clarke felt her muscles lose some of their tension when she realised it wasn't a cell she was in. The captive woman knew that by "there shortly", what Anya meant was they would soon be in the presence of the Commander. Of the woman that had betrayed Clarke so cruelly.

The floor beneath them jerked, and Clarke's body was filled with the strange sensation of rising. Through the material of her gag, she tried to ask Anya what was happening.

"I said calm down." Anya replied tersely, ignoring Clarke's muffled pleas.

Clarke wasn't sure if it was fear or anger that was making her heart pound in her chest, but she chose to focus on the later. Even if her palms were sweating with the anxiety of being in front of the Commander again, the blonde refused to show anything akin to fear to her.

Minutes passed until the room around them shuddered to a halt, and Clarke struggled against Anya's hold when she pushed her out the room. The sound of a bell came from behind her, but Clarke ignored it, focusing instead on trying to twist her way out of Anya's grip.

The Grounder held her tight though, forcing Clarke to walk through narrow corridor. The pounding of Clarke's heart continued, and from a medical point of view, she was beginning to worry she was about to have a full blown heart attack. Through the material of the bag, she could hear the doors in front of her being opened and she knew who was going to be on the other side.

"Wanheda, as promised." Anya announced without emotion, her foot kicking into the back of Clarke's knee and forcing her onto the floor.

Without warning the bag was ripped from her head. The light pouring through the window in front of the still captive woman was completely blinding, and Clarke had to squint her eyes to look through it. It was when her eyes had started to adjust to the new brightness that she finally focused on what was in front of her. Clarke's previously erratic heart froze.


The woman was stood above her, her silhouette blocking most of the sunlight as she looked down upon Clarke's kneeling form. She hadn't changed, her mouth trapped in an ever stoic frown, but her green eyes still gave her away. Clarke felt sick when she saw relief in them.

"Hello, Clarke." The Commander's voice still clipped the end of her name, just like Clarke remembered.

Clarke's heart stuttered into life again. She could practically feel her body trembling with rage when Lexa stepped down towards her. "I told you to bring her to me unharmed, Anya."

"She didn't come easy." Anya noted from next to her, but Clarke kept eyes trained on Lexa, her hands itching to wrap around the woman's throat and choke the life from her.

This was the woman who had abandoned her. The woman who had forced her to snuff out the lives of hundreds of innocent people. This was the woman who had taken her heart and ripped it out on the side of the Mountain as she betrayed all the trust Clarke had put in her.

"I expect not." Lexa acknowledged, her haunting green eyes looking back down at Clarke. The blonde clenched hands, pulling them against the rope, hoping the material would just give way and let her do what she had been dreaming about for months.

"Did Indra tell you of the Ice Nation?" Anya questioned, and for the first time Clarke noticed the other General standing beside the Commander's throne.

"Yes, they march on Polis, I've called on the twelve clans, they'll be here within the week." Looking back down at Clarke, Lexa raised her hand and dismissed the room. "Leave us."

Indra walked past her, her head tilting down to look at her, but still Clarke kept her eyes trained on the betrayer above her.

"Help her up." The Commander ordered the guards in Trigedasleng, and Clarke flinched when unfamiliar hands pulled her to her feet.

Stepping forwards, Lexa lifted her hands to Clarke's face. It took everything in her not to flinch away when she removed her gag.

"I'm sorry." Lexa apologised once the material popped out. Clarke flexed her aching jaw. "It had to be this way, I had to ensure Wanheda didn't fall into the hands of the Ice Queen. War is brewing, Clarke. I need you."

Nothing could describe the anger that rushed through Clarke's veins. Her vision started to blot, and her fists clenched painfully. Lexa's words had cut straight through her and with her hands still bound, Clarke did the only thing her dehydrated mind could think of. Drawing back, Clarke spat her disgust towards the Commanders face.

The guards were on her in seconds. Before Clarke could tackle her betrayer to the ground, her body was being dragged backwards, away from the target of her rage. The restraint just made her angrier, the unconcealed hurt on the Commanders face enraging the blonde to the point she could feel her temples pounding with her contempt.

"You bitch!" Clarke cried. "You wanted the Commander of Death, you've got her!" A pained scream tore from her throat as she struggled against the tight grip on her arms, her legs flailing in front of her. "I'll kill you!"

Words lost all meaning to her, and as Lexa disappeared from her sight, Clarke screamed her fury into the empty corridors. Still her body strained against the guards, even when Anya pushed one of the them away to take her arm, she kept thrashing.

"Stop this!" Indra grabbed her other arm and both the General's hauled her further down the corridor. "Was she like this the whole way?" The woman grunted at Anya.

"No, in here." Anya said through gritted teeth

Suddenly, Clarke found her body thrown to the floor in another room.

Both Grounder's stood above her, both of them panting with the exertion of handling her. Clarke stayed on the floor though, her body suddenly completely exhausted and drained of energy.

Anya knelt beside her. "You attack me and I'll tell Heda you accidentally fell on my sword." She threatened. Without any more hesitation, she started to cut through the binds on Clarke's wrists.

"I don't want to see her again." The blonde's voice croaked out.

"Still a child I see." Indra commented, and if Clarke didn't feel like her body had just run from Polis to Camp Jaha, she might have argued with her.

Anya scoffed, throwing the frayed rope onto the floor. "Fine, but don't think you can avoid her forever, Sky girl." Without another word, she walked straight out the room with Indra by her side.

She was alone. Again.

Clarke carefully rolled onto her back to survey the room around her.

There was a bed next to her, chairs behind her and a tub at the end of the room. It looked much like the buildings in TonDC. Old. The walls were chipped of paint, the floors scuffed from years of use and the furniture stitched together with odd patterns of material.

Despite her now aching muscles, Clarke pushed herself to her knees and crawled towards the bed, sitting down with her back leaning against it once she finally reached it. Her body and mind begged her to sleep. They begged her to at least rest her eyes, but Clarke refused. Settling herself, Clarke kept her gaze trained on the locked door that was keeping her captive.

Clarke wasn't sure how many hours passed, but her eyes had started to burn from being awake for so long. Daylight had long started to creep through the window in her room and she could hear the sound of the city waking up beneath her.

Muffled voices from the hallway had the blonde's back straightening, and her muscles tensing ready for a fight. It was only when the door swung open that she let herself partially relax.

Indra swept into the room, her dark eyes scouring the room before finding Clarke on the floor. Clarke could see the pity in them and immediately the anger in her stomach started to bubble in response.

"Did you stay there all night?" Indra questioned, but Clarke answered with nothing more than a scowl. Apparently accepting that she wasn't going to get an answer, the Grounder continued. "I leave for TonDC today, I'm to invite Kane to the meeting of the twelve clans. Would you like me to take them a message?"

Clarke opened her mouth, her voice croaking painfully from her screaming the evening before. Indra seemed to notice her discomfort, her eyes rolling before stepped besides Clarke's huddled form to pour her a cup of water from the table next to the bed.

Once the fluid touched her lips, Clarke gulped it down. She hadn't realised how much her throat had been stinging from thirst until the first mouthful.

"Thanks." Clarke whispered hoarsely. Her voice was still scratchy, but she could at least make herself speak. "Just tell them I'm alive." She requested.

Indra nodded before pouring Clarke another cup full of water.

Realisation suddenly washed over her, and Clarke pulled the cup away from her mouth. "Anya stabbed Bellamy." Clarke croaked as quickly as possible. "Can you tell them where he was? I don't know if he was alone." Indra nodded again at her instruction, and Clarke felt herself relaxing further. "Are the rest of them safe?"

Indra looked at her uncertainly for a moment, clearly weighing up whether to reveal the truth to the blonde or not. "No, not now the Azgeda have crossed the border." She finally revealed.

Clarke creased her brow in worry. Her people had barely survived the Mountain. She had barely survived the Mountain. The last thing her people needed was another war on their doorstep.

Food was brought to Clarke not long after Indra left her again. The painful hunger in her stomach had Clarke throwing caution and pride to the wind, and eating it without question or restraint.

She was a prisoner in the tower. Yet, Indra had told her she was allowed around the building. The only catch was the two guard escort who had to follow her at all times, but it was a breath of freedom that Clarke needed.

With her hunger sated, the unnamed guards who had been outside the room all morning had led her to the open balcony of the tower.

The whole of Polis spread out beneath her, and Clarke couldn't help sucking in a breath at the sight. Painfully, her mind flashed back to before Lexa's betrayal, when the woman had told her that Polis would change what she thought about the Grounders. Looking out across the city, the blonde understood exactly what she meant.

"I see the Commander has found herself a new pet." A deep voice had Clarke jerking around in shock.

There was a man sat on the balcony next to her, his long brown hair pulled back into a small knot. Scars stretched across his face, and Clarke felt her heart stall. He was Ice Nation.

During her three months in the wild, Clarke had learnt about the Ice Nation's border from Niylah. The outpost worker had been the one to tell Clarke almost everything she now knew about the Grounders. With what she knew now, the blonde wondered if Niylah had been trying to keep her safe. There was no reason for the woman to explicitly tell her about the Ice Nation's affinity for scared facial tattoos unless she already suspected Clarke wasn't a Grounder.

"Does she really think I need three guards." Clarke muttered bitterly.

The man laughed deeply. "The Commander banished the Ice Nation from her personal guard years ago, Wanheda. I'm a prisoner, just like you." Clarke looked down in shock. He knew who she was.

"Prince Roan, shouldn't you be be off thinking of an excuse for your mother undermining Heda again?" Anya's voice came from behind them, but Clarke's eyes widened at the knowledge of who she was sharing a balcony with.

Standing, Roan made his way past them both. "A pleasure as always, Anya."

The General made no attempt to reply, and Clarke watched her glower after him until he was out of sight. "You would do well to watch who you speak with."

"I can speak with who I want, or has Heda taken that from me too?" Clarke challenged.

"The Azgeda are not people you should ally yourself with, Sky girl. You know nothing of their ways. You know nothing of their brutality towards those they call their allies." Anya's voice dropped into a dangerous tone, her jaw visible tensing.

"I wonder if the Ice Nation would say the same of the Trikru?" The reaction was instant, and Clarke stepped back as Anya whirled around to face her. The woman's deep brown eyes were ablaze with fury. Whatever tensions there were between the Azgeda and Trikru, for Anya it was a personal.

"You are Heda's guest, you have full use of the bathing facilities, I suggest you use them." Anya seethed and a second later, she was marching off down the corridor again.

Discreetly, Clarke smelled at her clothing and gagged at the scent that greeted her.

Clarke sat patiently, watching as two Grounder women prepared the bath in the room the Commander was keeping her in. She refused to refer to it as her own. If anything it was her cell, just like the one she was forced to stay in on the Ark.

"I saw the prince again." The younger of the two whispered, and Clarke discreetly tilted her head to hear them better.

"Careful, she might hear." The other, visibly older Grounder replied, her head subtly jerking in the blonde's direction.

"She can't understand us, just pretend we're talking about the water." Clarke heard a gentle splash and looked up. "Your bath ready soon, Wanheda." The young girl said in heavily accented English.

Clarke nodded her head, pretending to study the cracks lining the walls around them.

"I heard his mother is coming to Polis. Can you imagine, the Ice Queen in the same room as Heda again?"

The older woman tried to shush her. "Pheme, she is not the only one who might be listening."

Her curiosity firmly piqued, Clarke pulled her shirt over her head, revealing her body to the two women.

"Wanheda, more time, ready soon." The stricter woman tried to say, but Clarke turned her back to her, pointing at the scratch marks on her back. Both women gasped, and the blonde flinched when she felt a finger press against the sore flesh.

"Medicine, I will get it." Clarke smiled at the sound of the older woman's voice, because her leaving was exactly what she was counting on. Putting on her most pained expression, she turned back around and nodded at the woman, waiting until she left the room before walking towards the younger girl.

The girl the older woman had called Pheme looked up at Clarke, immediately blushing at the sight of her almost bare torso.

"I'm Clarke." She said in introduction.

"Pheme." The girl pointed towards herself, and Clarke sat herself down on the side of the tub beside her.

"How long have you worked under the Commander." Clarke asked, barely restraining herself from spitting out the betrayers name. Instead, she smiled encouragingly at the girl.

"Three summers, my father, he is guard." Pheme replied, her head nodding with each word.

"Do you like it here?" Clarke enquired genuinely, because from the few people she had seen around the tower, they had all seemed to want to be there.

"Yes, Heda provides for us very well."

"I- I met someone earlier, you might be able to tell me who he is?" Pheme nodded, eager to please Clarke. "He was tall, long brown hair, and he had scars," Clarke brought her hands to her face and traced the area that Roan's scars had been. "On his face."

"Prince Roan of Azgeda!" Pheme smiled happily.

"He mention he was a prisoner here?" Playing into the moment, Clarke creased her brow. "How could someone so handsome end up a prisoner?" She didn't suppose the girl understood everything, but she hoped her tone would provide enough context.

"I-" Pheme hesitated, and Clarke wondered if maybe she had pushed it too far. "Maybe it is best we do not talk of this."

"Hey, I'm a prisoner too, it's not like I can tell anyone, it can be our secret." Clarke reassured her.

Pheme hesitated for a moment longer, her eyes glancing to the door behind Clarke before leaning in close and whispering. "The Aiz Kwin banished him. He could provide no child and he refused kill of Aiz Kwin prisoner."

Clarke nodded her head in understanding, moving away from Pheme as she heard the other Grounder returning to the room. If Roan was a prisoner of the Commander's that meant he would be easy to turn on her. If he was against the Ice Nation as well... Clarke smiled at the implication because despite what Anya had warned her, she might have just found her first ally.

Chapter Text

 Clarke groaned as she slowly woke. When she had dragged the chair to face the door it hadn't been with the intent to fall asleep in it. Apparently almost three days without any rest was too much for her exhausted body to handle though.

Cursing herself, Clarke rubbed fruitlessly at her sore neck. Any of kinks that had been worked out by the warm bath she had indulged in the night before would undoubtedly be back with a vengeance.

Her shoulder hurt less at least. Whatever poultice Pheme had helped apply to the deep cuts had already reduced the swelling and potentially stopped the infection Clarke had feared was starting to develop.

It was when her eyes started to adjust to the light of the room that her body stiffened.

There was a fresh tray of food on the table.

Twisting her aching body in the seat, the tired woman jerked out of the chair when she spotted Anya standing by the window with her back to her.

“Is this a Skaikru trait? Have you never seen a bed?” The Grounder scoffed as she continued to stare out the window.

Clarke set her jaw as she stood to her full height. “What do you want, Anya?”

She wasn't sure how she had missed it, especially considering its size, but when Anya turned to face her, Clarke realised she was carrying what could only be described as tome. Striding across the distance between them, Anya held the book out for Clarke to take. “Read this.” She ordered, her arm outstretched and waiting.

Looking at the book curiously, Clarke felt her brow furrowing at the sight of the intricate swirling pattern etched across the cover. “What is it?”

“It's a book, or have you never seen one before, Sky girl?” Anya mocked.

“That's not what I meant.” She gritted out, the irritation clear in her voice.

“It's information.” Reaching out, Clarke started to grip onto the thick leather. “Heda wanted you to have it.”

Instantly, Clarke snatched her hand away as if it had been burnt. Without her there to take the weight, the heavy book slipped from Anya's hand and thudded against the floor.

“I don't want anything she has to give me.” Clarke snarled, her anger suddenly flaring hot in her veins.

Anya tutted loudly, her eyes rolling slightly, before leaning down to pick up the heavy tome. Clarke could just make out the Trigedasleng curses she muttered out as she brushed the dust from the cover.

“I have things to do.” The Grounder said, stepping past her to throw the book onto the unused bed. “Read the book and sleep, Wanheda.”

Without another word, Anya was marching out the door, the already cracked glass shuddering as she slammed it behind her.

It was hours later, when the room and decision to read the book or not felt like it was suffocating her, that Clarke retreated to the balcony. Polis stood before her again. The dying light painted the city in hues of red and yellow, the shadows stretching out as the sun dipped below the horizon.

It hadn't happened in what felt like forever, but Clarke's fingers suddenly itched with the need to capture the image on paper.

The day had passed quickly, her thoughts occupied with trying to figure out exactly what Lexa's intentions were.

Anya had said she wanted to use the power of Wanheda. If the Commander wasn't going to kill her to “obtain” that power though... Clarke could only guess that she intended to use the fear the name apparently invoked instead.

That had led to a more interesting train of thought. If the Commander could use that fear and the Grounders were truly as afraid of Wanheda as Clarke suspected they were, then maybe it was something she could use to her advantage too.

The Grounders that were guarding the door to the room Lexa was keeping her in were loyal to their Heda. Clarke knew the Commander would only keep those who were the most loyal and devoted to her as guards in the tower. If those guards had the same superstitions as the Ice Nation's Queen though...

Clarke wondered who they would listen to. Wanheda or their own Heda. She wondered who they would be more afraid of, who they would be most in awe of.

Stepping outside, Clarke tried to clear her mind. A headache had been building for the last hour and coming to the balcony was meant to be a reprieve from the stifling thoughts.

Turning her head as she went through the doorway, the blonde looked to where she had found Roan sitting the day before. She was surprised to find him sat in the same place again. Even more surprising was the knife in his hand. Casually, the Prince sliced at an apple, eating the fruit straight off the back of the blade.

“Well if it isn't the Prince of Azgeda.” She greeted as evenly as possible.

“The Commander of Death graces me with her presence again.” He said around a mouthful of the fruit. “How is life as the Commander's pet treating you?”

“How is a life of banishment treating you?” She challenged back. It was only brief, but Clarke didn't miss the flash of anger in Roan's eyes when he looked up at her.

She hadn't been able to learn any more about the Prince. Pheme hadn't returned to her room and Clarke doubted Anya or the ever changing guards would tell her anything.

“My banishment should have been over, but the Commander,” Roan said bitterly, his voice practically growling her title. “Decided to let Anya go in my place.”

Clarke felt her brow furrowing, Anya never had told her why she was the one to come find her. “Why Anya?”

“She doesn't like owing anyone a debt.”  Roan replied pointedly. “Rumour has it, Wanheda saved her life.”

The gunshot wound. Or maybe it was breaking her out of Mount Weather. Perhaps it was both, Clarke mused.

“She was too stubborn to die.” Clarke said, her fingers absentmindedly picking at the rust on the railing as she remembered that night outside Camp Jaha.

Anya had been lucky. The bullet had managed to pass straight through the Grounders body without hitting a single vital organ. It had been even luckier that it had been her mom who met her at the gate because without her, Clarke knew Anya would have bled out on the forest floor.

“It's peaceful.” Clarke whispered, letting herself relax for the first time all day.

Polis could have been something so different for her. She could have seen it through the eyes of the people that were closing shops in the street, or the children that were weaving their way between houses. Instead she was locked away in a tower at Lexa's command, waiting once again for some else to decide her fate.

“No weapons.” Roan explained, humming slightly as he finished swallowing a mouthful of fruit. “Unless it's a coup. Or an uprising... Or the Commander decides to have one of their slaughters.”

“Lexa would never-” Clarke quickly cut herself off when she realised what she was doing. Looking behind her, she saw the smirk pulling at Roan's lips. Silently, the blonde cursed herself for falling into the trap he had so clearly set.

“That was her predecessors favourite sport.” He continued, pushing himself to his feet to stand next to her, his eyes staring down at the city beneath them. “The people love her. For what she stands for. For what she's done for the twelve clans.”

Forgoing his knife, Roan took another bite out the apple. “There was a time when not a single ambassador would enter the city.” He smiled at the city again before turning to face Clarke. “Now all twelve are gathering.”


“Why what, Wanheda?” The Prince taunted.

Clarke scowled at him, watching as he inspected the dwindling apple. “Why wouldn't they enter the city?” She asked more precisely.

“Because,” Roan started, before taking a final bite of the fruit. “Not all Commander's are worthy of their title.”

Throwing the core off the side of the balcony, Roan turned to head back inside the tower.

“And is this one?” Clarke asked after him.

Pausing he turned back to face her, a smirk playing on his lips. “I don't know. Are you worthy of your title, Wanheda?”

 “Indra kom Trikru is here to see you, Wanheda.” The guard said, his eyes refusing to make contact with her own.

Clarke massaged her fingers against the side of her neck. It was late afternoon and the muscles were sore from another night spent sleeping in the chair. After Roan had left her on the balcony the night before, she had stayed outside watching the city until the chill of the night had become too much. By the time she had returned to the room again, her body was begging for rest, so the tired woman hadn't hesitated to curl up into the chair and sleep.

Clarke nodded at the guard, moving away from the window. “Let her in.”

A moment later, Indra was pushing through the door, glaring at the guard as he walked out. The blonde almost smiled at the thought of the guard telling the General she had to wait before she could enter.


“Clarke.” She wasn't expecting the flood of relief she felt at the other woman saying her real name. It had seemed that everyone but Anya was set on referring to her by her new grotesque title.

“Are they okay?” Clarke asked, her hands wringing at the ends of the sleeves in worry.

“Arkadia is fine. The boy returned there safely.”

Clarke let out a sigh at the news. Bellamy was okay. He had been trying to help her, and Clarke could only surmise that as usual he had gone running into the situation head first without any real plan.

Then it suddenly hit her.

They had renamed Camp Jaha. It had barely been her home for more than a few days, but Clarke still found her heart aching at the thought of her people moving on without her. There were bound to have been other changes. Clarke wondered if she would even recognise what she had briefly known as home any more.

“And the meeting?” Clarke asked, blinking back the unexpected tears that had started to gather at Indra's revelation.

“Both Kane and Abby will be coming.” Indra confirmed, the barest hint of a smile twitching at side of her mouth.

Without meaning to, Clarke let out another heavy breath of relief. A part of her had become increasingly worried that out of spite of the Commander's betrayal, her mother would refuse the request. Clarke could only imagine what would have happened if she had.

“There was a man, from another part of your clan.” Indra continued, walking closer to Clarke with her voice lowered. “Pike.”

“Pike? Charles Pike?” Clarke asked with disbelief, her eyes widening at the news. “The Farm Station made it?” If the Farm Station had made it, then maybe other parts of the Ark had landed safely too-

“They landed in Azgeda territory.” In an instant, Clarke felt her heart dropping again. She didn't have to ask Indra what had happened. “He does not trust the Grounders.” The other woman said, the term sounding foreign coming from her lips.

“You don't like him?”

She was confused, because the Pike she remembered had been a kind man. A teacher of endless patience. Whatever had happened to the Farm Station couldn't have been enough to change the man so fundamentally, Clarke was sure of it. Pike probably didn't trust the the Grounders, but the blonde was confident once he understood that it was the Ice Nation, likely under the direct instruction of the Ice Queen, he would start to come around.

Lost in her own train of thought, Clarke hadn't noticed Indra opening the book Anya had abandoned on the bed the day before.

“Whoever wrote this had an affinity for the Trikru.” Clarke snapped her head up, surprised to see a rare smile on Indra's face. “The great villages of the Southern Trikru.” She read aloud.

Without warning, the door burst open.

Clarke stumbled back, Indra instantly moving in front of her. The sword that had been sheathed on her hip was already in her hands before the doors had even finished bouncing against the walls.

Anya walked in a moment later, and Indra relaxed her stance.

“The Commander's back. She wants an update on the Skaikru.” Anya said, smirking at the sight in front of her.

“She should be training with the Natblida's.” Indra seethed.

Natblida's. Clarke furrowed her brow at the unfamiliar word.

“Titus.” Anya replied simply.

An unmistakable growl rumbled from the older General's throat and Clarke stepped back when she visibly tensed with anger. “The man oversteps his position. Again.”

“The Fleimkepa knows what's best, Indra.” Anya replied mockingly.

It wasn't a second later that Indra was storming out the room, her sword still firmly in her grip. Clarke wondered if whoever Titus was knew the storm that was coming his way.

Despite the other woman's exit, and presumably Anya's work being complete, the Grounder remained in the room with her. Clarke watched as her dark eyes darted around the baron walls before they landed on the plate of food Clarke had left untouched on the table.

Tutting, Anya shook her head. “Why do you still refuse to eat? I didn't save you so you could starve yourself to death.”

“I didn't need you to save me, Anya.” Clarke bit back.

Ignoring her, the older woman unsheathed the dagger on her belt and stabbed it into the food on the plate. Anya hummed loudly as she chewed on the meat. Clarke wouldn't admit it, but her stomach cramped uncomfortably at the sight of food being consumed in front of her.

“When will the ambassadors start arriving?” Clarke asked, trying to distract herself from the hunger in her belly.

“The Podakru and Ingranronaare ambassadors are already here. For the food most likely, and to try and get a glimpse of the legendary Wanheda before anyone else.” Anya replied, her eyes scanning over the food again. “The Ice Nation will be the last to arrive.”

Clarke didn't know much about the borders of Polis, but she knew it was at least partially surrounded by the forests of the Trikru. She also knew that the Ice Nation's border was only half a day away.

“But they're closest?” Clarke ventured.

“They like to test the Commander's patience.” Anya replied, her knife stabbing into another piece of meat. “Eat, Clarke. You can't plan your escape on an empty stomach.”

“If I wanted to escape, I would have already.” She argued back, but the other woman was already walking towards the door.

“And read the book.” Anya threw over her shoulder before slamming the door behind her again, making Clarke wince at the sound of the glass shuddering.

In the silence of the room, Clarke stared at the book once more. Anya had said it contained information. Information was what she needed, but the tome had been a gift from the Commander. Sighing, Clarke knew she had no choice. If she wanted to learn more about the Grounders and their culture, she was going to have to read it.

Swallowing back the tightness in her throat, Clarke approached the bed cautiously.

Reaching out, she began to trace the swirling pattern with the tip of her finger. The cover looked just as intricate as she remembered. Without meaning to, she sat herself on the bed, the soft furs beneath her practically calling to her to lay down within them and sleep.

Picking the book up, the suddenly tired woman quickly moved across the room to sit in the chair that she had already spent so many hours in.

Flipping the pages, Clarke couldn't help marvelling at the hand drawn maps and pictures littered through out. It was all handwritten, the titles looping around in flares of ink and the main text uniform and precise.

It was beautiful.

And Clarke hated that she thought so.

Turning the pages back to the beginning, she ran her finger down the contents.

In the beginning there was one Commander. It was her blood that was gifted to the Twelve who would form the Twelve Clans of the alliance.” She read out loud whilst tracing the lines of text with her fingers.

Beneath it, Clarke read the twelve names of the clans, each one with its symbol stamped next to it and a page number.

Immediately, she pushed the pages of the book straight to the section marked as Azgeda. If she was going to side with Roan against the Commander, Clarke wasn't going to do it completely blind.

 The door of the room swung open, and Clarke jumped at the sudden movement.


Lexa was in the room with her, her arms folding behind her back as she studied Clarke.

“What part of I won't see you was unclear?” The blonde asked, trying to keep the anger she could already feel rising within her out of her voice.

It had been three days since she had finally started reading the book. The text read as beautifully as it looked, the words flowing together in a way that reminded Clarke more of poetry than the history book it was meant to be. The only section she hadn't been able to touch was the Trikru. Every time, Clarke would find herself slamming the book shut as she seethed at being unable to think of anything but Lexa kom Trikru the moment she started to read.

She was also seething that Lexa hadn't been to see her. In the whole week Clarke had been trapped, the woman hadn't even tried. Clarke couldn't help feeling an irrational bout of anger at the Commander for not attempting to see her even once, despite her own request for her not to.

“I respected your wishes for a week, Clarke. We've got bigger concerns.” Lexa explained calmly, but Clarke felt herself tensing at the implication of there still being a “we”.

“'We' don't have any concerns at all.”

“Yes, we do.” Slowly, Lexa started to make her way towards her. “I'm hosting a summit with Skaikru at sundown. You'll be returned to your people.”

That caught her off guard. Clarke knew her mother and Kane were coming to Polis, but she hadn't expected the Commander to be releasing her that day. “You went to all that trouble to capture me just to let me go?”

“I went to all that trouble to save you.” Lexa replied defensively.

Clarke scoffed at her response. “Anya went to all the trouble, you just stayed here in your ivory tower. What's wrong Lexa? You don't like doing your own dirty work?” She goaded.

A strange feeling of relief washed over her when she recognised the flash of anger in the Lexa's eyes. “Anya was there under my command, Clarke.”

“Well do you know when I could have used saving? When I could have used having someone there under your command?” The blonde asked, keen to keep provoking Lexa into the argument she was suddenly so desperate to have. “When you abandoned me at Mount Weather.“

“Clearly, you didn't need my help.” Lexa countered. The sentence made Clarke's jaw stiffen.

“Clearly.” She replied dryly.

“You're angry, Clarke, but I know you... What you've done haunts you, and it's easier to hate me than to hate yourself.”

“Oh, I can do both.” She responded, far more honestly than she had intended.

Lexa stared at her for a moment, and Clarke braced herself because she knew the look the other woman was giving her. She had seen it countless times when the Commander had been trying to teach her how to become the leader of her people. “What would you have done if their leader had offered you the deal. Save your people at the price of mine? Would you really have chosen differently?”

“I don't betray my friends.” Clarke practically spat back.

“But you did.” Clarke's brows furrowed because it hadn't been her that betrayed anyone. “You had friends in Mount Weather.”

“Those deaths are on you, too. The only difference is, you have no honour, and I had no choice.” Clarke quickly argued back, refusing to dwell on the image of Jasper holding Maya's body in his arms.

“It helps no one to dwell on the past, and that's not why I'm here.” Lexa quickly diverted, stepping even closer to Clarke. “You're right. I'm not just letting you go back to your people. I want something more. I want your people to become my people. I'm offering Skaikru the chance to join my coalition, become the thirteenth clan. No one would dare to move against you because that would be moving against me.” Lexa quickly explained.

“Just-" Clarke was exhausted already, the fight already starting leaving her. There was a reason she left, and it wasn't to become embroiled in Grounder politics.  "Just leave me alone. I'm done. Do you understand that? I left.”

“You can't run away from who you are.” The Commander snapped, anger once again flashing across her features. Clarke watched as the other woman physically tried to gather herself after the outburst.

“Join me.” Lexa continued, her voice calm once more. “Bow before me, and your people will be safe.”

Clarke felt sick. This woman. This betrayer wanted her to bow to her? After everything she had made her do?

“Bow before you?” Clarke said aloud as realisation swept over her. This was Lexa's reason for saving her, the reason she had dragged her to Polis. It wasn't to keep her safe. Anya had told her the truth. All the Commander wanted was to use her, to use her title of Wanheda to show the coalition that she could control her. Lexa wanted to show the coalition that she could dominate the Wanheda, that she was more powerful than her.

“You don't give a damn about my people. I know why you're here. I made you look weak at Mount Weather, and now the Ice Nation is exploiting that." Clarke surmised. "Well, if you want the power of Wanheda, kill me. Take it. Otherwise, go float yourself because I will never bow to you.”

Quickly, she turned away from Lexa, her body shaking with barely suppressed rage. Lexa didn't rise to her bait though. “You have until sundown.”

“What part of 'no' didn't you understand?” Clarke twisted back around, ready to argue with Lexa again, but the woman was already walking away.

The rage in Clarke's chest only increased when Lexa walked straight out the door without answering her. Without meaning to, the incensed woman dug her fingers into the back of the chair in front of her. She would never bow to Lexa, she would never pledge her loyalty to someone that had left her to die. Someone that had betrayed her when she needed them most.

With a frustrated scream, Clarke launched the chair across the room. The wood instantly exploded on impact. Fragments of chair flew across the floor, clattering loudly against every surface they hit.

The guards were bursting through the door a second late, their spears drawn and ready.


They both froze at the sight of her, the fear on their faces clear to see. Desperately, Clarke fought to reel in her emotions. This is what Lexa had done. She had taken the name Clarke Griffin and forever attached it to Wanheda. The Commander of Death. That was how the Grounders saw her.

“Clarke?” Lexa's panicked voice came from the hallway.

“Wanheda?” The guard closest to her cautiously asked again, the tremor in his voice obvious.

“If you let her back in here I'll kill you both myself.” The still enraged woman seethed, her voice low and dangerous as she tried to stop herself from shouting at the man.

He nodded once, swallowing visibly, before walking back towards the still open doors. “Wanheda is- She is not harmed, Heda.”

There was no reply. Clarke gritted her teeth, almost daring the Commander to come back in and face her. Hours could have passed as she waited for the other woman to make her next move.

Sweat started to form on the brow of the guard still facing her. Clarke wondered what he would do if Lexa did try to come in. Would he bend to his Heda's will? Or would his fear of Wanheda have him stopping his Commander in her tracks?

The sound of retreating footsteps echoed loudly from the hallway, and the blonde finally felt herself relaxing again.

“Get out.” She ordered.

 “Are you done destroying the Commander's property?” Anya said accusingly, her eyes scanning over the remains of the chair that were still scattered across the floor.

“Leave me alone, Anya.” Clarke sighed, her finger tips rubbing against her temples as she sat in the one remaining chair.

“The past is in the past, Clarke.”

Reluctantly, the blonde rose to her feet, her eyebrow rising as Anya studied her.

“Well at last I know where Lexa got that mantra.” Clarke muttered darkly.

“Heda learnt a long time ago that holding onto the past can destroy a person, it's about time you learnt the same thing.” The Grounder's voice remained neutral, but Clarke could tell from the clenching of her jaw that Anya was barely suppressing her own emotions. “Look at yourself. You haven't slept despite being perfectly safe, you don't bathe until someone tells you to-”

“Why are you still here, Anya? I said leave me alone.”

“Because you killed 300 of my people.” She suddenly stated. Instantly, Clarke felt her breath catch in her throat. “You burnt them alive until they were ash.” Anya advanced on her, her strong frame forcing Clarke to step backwards until she found herself flat again the wall. “You did that.”

“That was war.” Clarke replied, her eyes glowering up at the taller woman.

“And Mount Weather wasn't?” Anya questioned. “They knew our plan, Clarke. You saw the weapons they had behind that door, the Coalition's army would have been dead before they even got inside.”

“We could have tried!” Clarke seethed anyway.

“Then why didn't you try to do something different? Why did you burn them all alive, Clarke?”

“I had no choice.” Clarke's voice started to waver, the anger giving away to the hurt that she had been desperately trying to ignore all week.

“Neither did, Lexa.” Anya replied, her voice dropping to almost a whisper. Clarke blinked in surprise at hearing the other woman refer to Lexa by anything but her title.

There was a sadness in Anya's eyes that Clarke hadn't seen since Tris had died, and she could feel her remaining anger dying in her throat. “I- I can't, Anya, she betrayed me.”

“If Lexa hadn't taken the deal, she would have been betraying her people.” Anya continued mournfully. It was barely visible, but Clarke could see the sheen of tears in her eyes. “She would have been sentencing her army to death. Would you really have done anything differently if they had offered you the deal?”

“I-” Clarke's voice croaked, having to duck her head when the tears started to gather. “I trusted her. I told everyone we could trust her.”

“I know.” Anya's hand unexpectedly squeezed at her shoulder in comfort before she took a step back from her. “Your people need protection from the Ice Nation, Clarke. Let Lexa and those who are in your debt for Mount Weather be the ones to provide it.” Clarke looked up, her eyes still glossy with tears at Anya's confession. “Do what's right for your people, Clarke.”

For the first time in days, when Clarke stepped out onto the balcony, she found it wasn't empty. Roan was leaning with his back against the railing, where she suspected he had been waiting for her.

“Well, if it isn't the Prince of Azgeda.”

Smirking, he stood to his full height. “Relax, Wanheda. I'm here to help you.”

Scoffing, the blonde walked to the edge of the balcony. “Of course you are.”

Even though Clarke knew it was futile, she still tried to search the crowds of the city for her mother.

“The Commander promised I would have the chance to have my banishment lifted if I came here.” Looking away from the crowded market, Clarke turned back to face the Prince. “Instead I'm being used as a pawn against my mother. She broke our deal and I'm willing to strike a new one with you, so we can both go home.”

“I'm already going home.” Clarke told him, but he didn't seem surprised by the revelation.

Roan stepped closer, lowering his voice. “Then you won't have a chance to get what you really want.”

Clarke narrowed her eyes. “What would you know about what I want?”

“I've heard the rumours. Wanheda is looking for revenge on the Commander. Apparently, the Commander of Death has marked her next victim.”

Despite Roan's attempts to goad her, it didn't take much for Clarke to realise what it was that he actually wanted.

“You want to kill her?” She asked, waiting until he subtly nodded his head before continuing. “So kill her.”

“You can get close. I can't.” And suddenly it all fell into place. Roan wanted to use her and his time to do so had clearly run out with her impending release from Polis. He wanted to use her same way Lexa wanted to use her. Neither of them had her or the people of the Ark's best interest at heart. They just needed her for their own personal gain.

“You'll find a knife under your bed when you return to your room. I've already bought enough of the guards to get you out of here.” Roan explained quietly. “If you do this, Azgeda will take control of the coalition, and you'll find a strong and grateful ally in the Ice Queen.”

“And why should I trust her? From what I hear, she's worse than Lexa.” Clarke asked because she would need the Ice Nations protection if she was going to even consider doing it. If she killed the Commander there would be retaliation, she was sure of it, and she couldn't risk that retaliation spilling over to her people.

“That's because you've been talking to Anya.” He replied. “Look. We're all trying to do what's right for our people. This is what's right for yours.”

 The room was empty by the time Clarke returned. With her face as neutral as possible, she shut the door on the guards. Quietly, and with her eyes still on the door, the blonde lifted the furs off her bed.

The knife was where Roan had told her it would be.

Cautiously, she picked up the blade. It took her a moment to realise it was the same knife Roan had been using to eat his apple just days before. The coincidence seemed too much, and Clarke suspected the man had been planning this from the moment he had heard she was in the tower.

Just because he was using her in his own plan that didn't mean Clarke couldn't go along with it though. The book Lexa had given her described the power of the Ice Nation. It described the army Queen Nia ruled over. Hundreds of soldiers, by far the biggest army of any clan. With them at her back, Clarke wouldn't have to fear revenge from the Trikru, her people could still be safe.

Wanheda would have her revenge and her people could still be safe. The thought comforted her, and she quickly hid the knife within her sleeve.

With a deep breath, Clarke pulled open the doors again. The two guards were in the same spot she had left them, both still refusing to look at her, and Clarke took in a final nervous breath.

“I need to talk to the Commander."

Chapter Text

 Staring at the knife in her hands, Clarke tried to steady the beating of her heart. This wouldn't be the first time she had killed someone, there were countless bodies behind her. She could do this, she could kill the Commander. She could kill Lexa.

The deep voices of the guards muffled through the door, their Commander was approaching.

Quickly, Clarke sprang to her feet, her hands fumbling to hide the blade within her sleeve again. She had just managed to face away from the entrance when the door opened behind her. It was strange, but the blonde immediately recognised the sound of the Commander's familiar footfalls.

“You wanted to see me? I'm here.” The woman behind her said, her voice stern and even. Clarke could just imagine the way Lexa's hands were tucking behind her back. The way her chin was lifting in defiance. “Clarke-”

At the sound of her name, Clarke twisted around, grabbing onto the startled woman's shoulder as she pressed the knife to her throat.

She could do it, she could kill her, she could-

Bright green eyes stared into her own, flickering between them in surprise.

The Wanheda could do it-

Looking down at the blade in her hand, Clarke pressed it harder against Lexa's neck, willing herself to just do what needed to be done.

The Commander had betrayed her. Because of her, Clarke had to destroy the Mountain and face it all alone. Lexa was the only one that could have possibly understood, but she left her. She left her all alone when Clarke needed her most.

Clarke knew Lexa could have disarmed her by now, she had hesitated for too long. There was an acceptance in the other woman's eyes though. Lexa was willing to let it happen. She was willing to let Clarke kill her if that was what she needed.

"You don't understand what Heda is willing to sacrifice for you."

“I'm sorry.” Lexa breathed.

Those two words were all it took for her to finally break.

Clarke couldn't do it.

With tears in her eyes, the blonde quickly pushed Lexa away from her, dropping the dagger to the floor. She had to turn away. She wouldn't cry in front of Lexa, she wouldn't be weak in front of her.

“I never meant to turn you into this.” Lexa practically whispered. It was so quiet, so hesitant, that Clarke wasn't even sure she meant to say it aloud.

It didn't matter what Lexa had meant to do though. The past was in the past. What had been done couldn't be undone. The second the Commander walked away from the Mountain, she had sealed Clarke's fate to kill them all.

“You're free to go.” The Commander continued, her voice louder than before. “Your mother is here. I'll have you escorted to her.”

Clarke could hear Lexa's retreat. The heavy fall of her boots against the floor as she made for the exit.

Do what's right for your people, Clarke.”

Again it was Anya's voice echoing loudly in her mind.

Even though she wanted to be selfish, Clarke knew bowing to the Commander was the right thing for her people. If the Ice Nation were going to move against them, her people would need the Commander's protection. If her people were going to have a chance at living peacefully on the ground, they would need to be part of the coalition. Her people needed this.

Clarke had sacrificed herself for them before. She could do it again.

“Wait.” The blonde called, turning around just in time to see Lexa dropping her hand from the door handle. “I have a better idea.“

Clarke swallowed harshly when Lexa turned to face her again. “The Ice Nation, they're planning to attack because they think you're weak?”

“They believe I should have eliminated the Skaikru the moment you landed, and destroyed the Mountain myself.” Lexa stated simply, her eyes not quite looking at her.

“Then I'll kneel.” Clarke conceded. “Wanheda will kneel.”

Lexa nodded her head, her eyes finally making contact with Clarke's own. Even with the distance between them, Clarke could see the watery sheen of tears in the brunettes eyes.

“My people need protection, Commander. This is the best way to get it for them, that's all.” Stepping closer, she was shocked to see Lexa flinch slightly. “I'm doing this for my people.”

Again the other woman just nodded her head solemnly.

The silence pressed in around them and Clarke wasn't sure what else there was left to say between them. It used to be easy. The silences between them comfortable. Her heart clenched painfully at the thought of them never having that easiness back again. That Clarke would never be able to talk to Lexa like she was Lexa and not the Commander.

“Are you keeping the knife?” Lexa asked, interrupting her thoughts.

“Would you let me?” She questioned in return, glancing at the blade still resting on the floor.

“If it's something you wish to keep.”

Clarke stared at it for a moment, before nodding her head. “You don't want to know who gave it to me?”

“You wouldn't tell me even if I asked, Clarke.” Lexa replied, her voice resigned. “Anya will be through shortly, she'll explain what will happen tonight.”

For a moment, as Lexa paused in the doorway, Clarke thought she was going to apologise again. The words never came though. Instead the other woman just looked at her sadly, her eyes swimming with all words Clarke didn't want to hear.

Lexa left without another word and Clarke tried to ignore the burning in her chest.

 “Are you going to give me another book?” Clarke asked Anya as soon as she barged into the room again.

The Grounder scoffed at her. “It took you long enough to start reading the first one.”

“So what happens?” Clarke questioned, keen to understand exactly what it was she was expected to do.

“You walk into a room full of people and kneel in front of the Commander.” The other woman dead panned.

Clarke glared, her eyes squinting at Anya as she started to flick through the book that was still resting on the bed. “And Lexa couldn't have explained that herself.”

Anya grunted. “She knows how much I enjoy your company.”

Rolling her eyes, Clarke crossed her arms over her chest. “So that's it then? I walk into a room, bow, and the Skaikru become the thirteenth clan.”

Anya let out another grunt, continuing browsing the book without looking up. “After you take the brand, yes.”

“The brand?” Clarke grimaced.

“As a sign of devotion to the Commander and all her allies. And then,” looking up, Anya smiled at her. “Then we feast.”

Clarke numbly nodded her head. It seemed so simple, so easy. One bow and they would be forever tied to the Commander.

“You made the right choice, Clarke.” Anya said, interrupting her thoughts before they could truly take hold.

“I made the right choice for my people.” She muttered, more for herself than the other woman. “Am I just wearing this to the summit?” She quickly added, indicating down to the clothes she had been wearing since her capture.

The expression on Anya's face told Clarke everything she needed to know. It wasn't that she wanted to still be wearing them, she just didn't want to accept anything past the clean underwear that had been offered to her.

“The Commander before- Before-” Anya stalled and Clarke looked at her confused. What she saw was even more confusing, because Anya looked scared. The next moment, she was shaking her head and looking at Clarke as if nothing had happened. “One of the previous Commander's was as.... Endowed as you are.”

Clarke looked down at her chest before raising her eyebrow at the other woman.

Anya rolled her eyes in response. “Don't look so pleased with yourself, Sky girl. Come with me, I'll take you to your mother.”

 “Are you not going in?” Anya asked abruptly.

Clarke blinked rapidly, suddenly aware that she had been staring down the corridor for more than a few minutes. Right at the end, behind the guards, was her mom and Kane.

“Yeah, I am, I just- I just need a moment.” She explained, only for the General to shunt her in the back.

“Go.” Anya said, her hand pushing at Clarke's again. “I'll be there to collect you shortly.”

Before Clarke could ask her to stay, or possibly shunt her the whole way down the corridor, Anya was already striding away from her. The other woman didn't look back once and with a swish of her long coat around a corner, Anya disappeared completely.

Alone in the corridor, Clarke stared towards the guards again. She wasn't sure why she felt so nervous. It was her mother. Seeing her should have felt like the most natural thing in the world.

Yet, despite the daughterly craving to be held by her, Clarke's thoughts still raced.

What if her mom hadn't forgiven her for leaving after Mount Weather? What if she wouldn't accept the Commander's terms? What if she was there to tell Clarke, she wasn't welcome back in Camp Jaha?

Taking a deep breath, Clarke tried to shake the thoughts from her mind. The only way she was going to know was if she went in there.

The most important thing was that her mother accepted the Commander's terms. That she agreed to join the coalition. Clarke's place at Camp Jaha and whether her mom forgave her were of little importance if her mom didn't accept the coalitions protection.

Setting her face in determination, Clarke strode towards the end of the corridor. She could do this. All she had to do was convince her mom it was the right thing to do.

As soon as she reached them, the guards quickly opened the doors for her. Clarke could feel their wary eyes on her back whenshe passed them, but she didn't care because her mom was in front of her.

Clarke didn't mean for it to happen, but her confident stride faltered, only dropping back into place when her mom started walking towards her.

Warmth enveloped her body.

Without warning, her mom had wrapped her arms around her.

Hesitantly, Clarke raised her own arms to return the embrace. The emotions that were swimming through her were almost overwhelming. It felt like home, and Clarke wanted nothing more than to let herself sink into the comforting touch of her mother. She hadn't realised how much she craved being wrapped up in her embrace again.

Despite what her heart longed for, Clarke's mind quickly shifted into gear. Pulling herself away, she didn't miss the hurt on her mother's face, or the way her eyes scanned her face.

“I have something to tell you, and we don't have much time.” Clarke announced quickly, before she lost her resolve.

“Wait a minute.” Her mum said, her hands cupping her face. “Just let me look at you.”

It was then that Clarke noticed Kane was in the room. The now bearded man came to stand beside her mother, his hand gripping onto her shoulder.

“We'll have plenty of time to catch up once we get back home.” He interrupted, and Clarke was immediately grateful to have him there with them.

“The Commander's changing the terms of the summit.” Clarke explained before her mom could argue.

“Is this because of Mount Weather?” Kane asked.

The question had Clarke frowning. “This is because of the Ice Nation. They want Lexa dead. They want to take over the coalition.”

“That's Lexa's concern, not ours.” Her mom replied. It was the reaction Clarke had feared she would have.

Before she could try and convince her mother otherwise though, Kane was already agreeing with her. “No, Abby. If Lexa falls, the Coalition shatters, and there's no way we avoid that war. You said there were new terms?”

“We become the thirteenth clan.” Clarke simply stated.

Questions were racing through Kane's head, Clarke could see it in the way his eyes darted from side to side. With the room in silence, she watched him as he walked away, his mind clearly working through the proposition.

Her mother was quicker to react though. “Thirteenth clan? What does that mean? That we follow Lexa?”

The unspoken words were there. The words that spoke of Lexa's betrayal. Of Lexa abandoning them at the Mountain. Of Lexa abandoning her daughter at the Mountain.

Clarke nodded her head slightly. “Yes.”

Her mom didn't look convinced, the frown on her face deepening. “We came here to negotiate a treaty....”

“This is our Unity Day, mom.” She tried to explain because Clarke knew the story. She knew what had really happened to the thirteenth station. “You can be the thirteenth station, or you can be the thirteenth clan.”

It surprised her when her mom turned to Kane. “Marcus?”

Even though his feature were still tight with concentration, he nodded. “Clarke's right. I've seen the Ice Nation army, and we don't stand a chance against them. We need to do this.”

It was slow, but Clarke could see the acceptance starting to creep across mother's face. “So we become the thirteenth clan. Then what? What's going to stop the Ice Nation?”

“Wanheda.” Clarke replied, the name feeling bitter on her tongue.

“Wanheda?” Her mom asked incredulously. “Clarke, you're just a girl.”

“No mom, the Grounders, they-” Clarke took a deep breath because she still hated their reaction with every fibre of her being. “They fear me. If Lexa can show the coalition that Wanheda bows to her, then she can show them she's not weak-”

Her mother scoffed lightly, the frown slowly returning to her features. “So you just let her use you? Clarke-”

“If that's what it takes to protect our people, then yes.”

Before her mom could argue any further, Kane was placing his hand back on her shoulder again. “Abby. We have to trust Clarke.”

Seemingly defeated, her mom's shoulders slumped. “Has she at least been treating you well? You look tired, Clarke.”

Clarke almost laughed at the statement. After everything that had happened, everything that was happening, her mom still found the time to say something so utterly motherly.

“Yeah, they have been, I'm fine mom, honestly.” Despite Clarke's words, her mom still looked at her disbelievingly. “What did you mean?” Clarke quickly asked. “When you asked if this was about Mount Weather?”

Both of them froze at her question. Two sets of guilty eyes looked at her, and Clarke felt her stomach drop.

“We've been using the medical facilities there.” Her mom revealed. “And... The decision was made to move the survivors of the farm station there.”

“You- There's- You moved people into the Mountain?” Clarke was completely horrified. She had overheard enough over the past three months to know moving her people into the Mountain was the worst mistake her mom could have made.

“Clarke-” Kane tried to say.

Anger flashed up within her. “What the hell were you thinking!?” The blonde seethed.

“Clarke.” Anya's voice cut through the tension in the room.

Clarke quickly brushed her hand through her hair, trying to distract herself from the pounding of her heart.

“Anya.” Kane smiled, apparently as grateful as Clarke was for the interruption. He extended his hand to the Grounder. “It's good to see you, and in good health I take it?”

Anya nodded, grasping the man's arm with her hand. “Clarke tried to drown me, and then she stabbed me, but I've otherwise been well.”

Her mother looked at her, her eyebrow rising in an incredibly Abigail Griffin like gesture.

“She's missing half the story...” Clarke argued weakly as she tried to defend herself.

“She also tried to get me killed by three Ice Nation scouts.” The other woman continued, smiling at Kane as his expression began to match her mother's.

Coughing awkwardly, Clarke looked at Anya. “Is it time?” She asked, her heart feeling heavy when the woman nodded.

Her mother's arms suddenly wrapped around her again, causing Clarke jerk at the unexpected physical touch. “You're going to be fine, Clarke.” She softly whispered to her.

 “Thank you.” Clarke murmured quietly as Anya led her back through the corridors. The older woman glanced at her, her brows creasing in confusion. “For coming in when you did.” She quickly clarified.

Anya tilted her head in acknowledgement. “You didn't know your people were in the Mountain?” She asked.

“No.” Clarke replied, frowning at the thought of her people being back inside that place. There had been so many bodies lining the halls of the Mountain. Men, women, children. All of them lying where they had fallen the moment she pulled the lever to save her people. “They shouldn't be there.”

Anya hummed a noise of agreement.

“There should be a hand maiden in your room, I've asked them to prepare a bath for you.” Anya announced as they approached the corridor back to the room she was staying in. “I'll be with you soon.”

Before Clarke could say another word, the other woman was already striding away from her.

Slowly, Clarke walked towards the guards. As she pushed through the door, she did her best to ignore the way their eyes still wouldn't settle on her. She couldn't help the small prickle of guilt she felt for their ridged postures, it had only been a few hours earlier that she had threatened to kill them both.

The Grounder standing beside the bath was a familiar one. “Pheme?”

“Hello, Wanheda.” The girl smiled, her head bowing as Clarke shut the door behind her. “Your bath, it is ready.”

Walking to the bed, Clarke began removing the layers of clothing that covered her. It was a familiar ritual she had grown used to over the previous days. As always, the young hand maiden kept her head down in respect until Clarke had submerged her bare body into the warm water.

As her body leant back against the tub, Clarke let out a deep groan. It was scented heavier than usual, small petals and dried leaves floating on the surface. The warmth of the water relaxing her tense muscles was what Clarke appreciated most though.

“I will wash your hair, Wanheda.” Pheme said, shuffling behind her to prepare her things. Despite wanting to let her muscles unwind in the bath, Clarke shifted herself away from the edge to give the girl enough room to start her task.

Pheme worked in silence, wetting the blonde's hair with the jugs of warm water that sat next to the bath before lathering the bar of shampoo into her locks. Deft fingers massaged her scalp, and Clarke let out a hum of contentment. With her hair saturated with the shampoo, Pheme began the longer task of washing the suds away. Eventually, after the water ran clear again, she twisted Clarke's locks onto her head, fastening it into place to keep it from dipping into the water.

Sighing, Clarke relaxed back into the bath again.

“This.” Pheme's voice interrupted the silence, and Clarke twisted her head to look at her. She was holding onto the book Anya had given her. “I have not seen before.”

“Anya gave it to me.” Clarke explained, feeling slightly guilty for making the girl use English despite her own proficiency in Trigedasleng.

The Grounder settled herself onto the bed, her hands opening the book on her lap. Seeing her there made Clarke smile. She suspected if the older hand maiden that was so often with Pheme had been there, she would have shooed the young girl straight off again.

Clarke was so distracted by the girl climbing on the bed, she almost didn't notice the way her eyes were discreetly scanning the room instead of the book in her hands. It was as if she was looking for something.

“Are you okay, Pheme?” She asked and big brown eyes instantly snapped around to look into hers.

Pheme nodded her head, but the hint of panic in her eyes was too clear for Clarke to miss. “Yes. Time.” Pheme stuttered, her finger pointing towards one of the candles.

Following the direction of her point, Clarke could see the wax almost at a gauge that had been cut into it.

With her eyes once again diverted, Pheme held out a towel for Clarke to step into. It was just as the material wrapped around her naked body that Anya threw open the doors.

“Knocking is a thing.” The blonde muttered, her hands pulling the towel closer to her body when the other woman left the door open. Anya just let out a grunt, walking straight past her as she carried a box of what Clarke assumed were clothes to the bed.

“That will be all, Pheme.” Anya said, not even looking at the girl. Silently, Pheme collected the empty jugs around the bath before practically bolting out the room. Clarke sighed in relief when she shut the door behind her.

Anya pulled folded fabric out of the box and thrust it into Clarke's hands. “Here, put this on. There's a screen over there.” She said, pointing vaguely at the other side of the room.

It didn't take Clarke long to find the wooden frame. It was old, the wood a mismatch of colour, with the spaces in between filled with a patchwork of embroidered cloth.

The clothing was unexpected. Clarke raised her eyebrow in disbelief when she saw how little of it there was. Quickly drying, the blonde pulled it on regardless, and she wasn't surprised to find half of her body was left uncovered.

“I think it's missing some material.” Clarke groaned as she tried to shuffle the top further up her body.

“That's all of it, Clarke.”

“Didn't this Commander own anything a bit more...” Looking down at her chest, she tried to pull the edges of the top closer together. “Covered?”

“Pallas kom Floukru was not known for her modesty.” Anya said, and Clarke could practically hear the smirk that must have been on her face.

“What was she known for?” She asked. Despite the depth of the history within the book Anya had given her, there had been very little on any of the previous Commanders.

“For being wise. She was the daughter of the Boat Peoples leader.” Anya explained from behind the screen. “But she had no will to dominate or unite the clans...” She trailed off. “Are you done?”

Looking down at herself, Clarke felt an unexpected bout of nerves as she stepped around the screen.

“Good,” Anya nodded. “Come with me.”

Anya had left Clarke half way down the tower. Apparently there was someone else coming to collect her for the final part of the preparations. As she waited, two Grounders had worked silently to twist her blonde hair into what Clarke assumed were intricate braids for the ceremony.

It was only minutes after they left when someone slowly pushed the door open.

Clarke was surprised to see the small woman, her features soft and aged, standing in the doorway. Her grey hair was long, hanging well past her waist with only a few thick black streaks remaining.

“Yein kom Trikru.” The elderly woman said in introduction. “Come, Wanheda, or you'll be late, late, late for the ceremony.”

Clarke nodded wordlessly, following the woman in front of her down the flight of stairs at the end of the corridor. Despite her elderly appearance, the blonde had to stride to keep up with Yein as she led her into one of the rooms on the floor below.

The room was lit with tens of candles hanging from the ceiling, their bare flames drenching the room in warm light. The walls were covered in shelves, each one stacked with tiny pots. Studying them as she passed, Clarke realised they were all paints.

Settling herself onto the stool in the middle of the room, Clarke watched the woman. “Is this what you do? War paint?”

“Not for many years. Heda asked me herself to be here today.” Yein's reply surprised her. Lexa had been counting on Clarke to say yes to her offer, yet she had been willing to let her go back to her mother without a fight.

“Did you choose Lexa's war paint too?” Clarke asked curiously as the older woman skimmed her fingers over the pots of paint that lined the walls.

Yein nodded at her absentmindedly, her attention still focused on the shelves in front of her.

“And the four Commanders before her. Heda was a tricky one though...” Yein tapered off, her attention switching to the two pots of paint she was inspecting side by side. “She was not in Polis for a long time before her conclave, then afterwards the poor girl wouldn't say a word... Ah, this one.” She said putting one of them back on the shelf.

“What happened? At her Conclave?”

Lexa had mentioned the event to Clarke when they had been walking back after the attack of the Pauna. The Commander hadn't been specific, quickly moving the conversation away before Clarke could ask any real questions. All she knew was when the previous Commander died the new potential candidates would go through a "conclave" with only one coming out as worthy.

“She had to kill them all, he was very specific in his instructions.” Yein replied, her head shaking. Clarke felt her throat tightening at the thought of Lexa killing her way to the title. “Heda refused to cry though, so I let her war paint do it for her.”

“And the Commander before her?” Clarke asked, watching Yein dip one of the multitude of brushes laid on the table before her into the paint.

Yein's eyes darkened. “He rejected my choice, he wore the blood of his Natblida's as his war paint. Look up.” Clarke did as instructed, tilting her chin until Yein's hand stopped her. With her head in position, she went to continue their conversation only for the elderly woman to quickly cut her off. “Silence, let me finish.”

Yein worked quickly, gently moving the brush across Clarke face before smearing the edges with her thumb. Apparently content with the coverage of one colour, the blonde watched the woman search through the shelves again, eventually pulling out another pot of paint.

It was only a few minutes later when she stepped back from Clarke. “There.” Yein said, letting her thumb run over the top of Clarke's cheek one last time before stepping away fully. “Take a look.”

Following Yein's outstretched hand, Clarke approached the full length mirror that was tacked to the wall.


The top she was wearing looked as low cut as Clarke had suspected it was. There was a slit in the skirt that travelled further up her leg than she was comfortable with, and it surprised her to see the muscles clearly defined on her thigh. She hadn't seen her reflection in months and Clarke wondered if it was possible to forget what your own face looked like because she didn't remember looking like this.

It wasn't just the clothes, or the way her hair had been braided, or the smears of makeup across her face. Clarke realised she looked older, she looked tired.

“Clarke.” Anya voice came from the doorway, drawing Clarke's attention to her. “It's time.”

The other woman had changed too, her casual attire swapped for light armour and her face washed clean of any trace of war paint.

“Your work is as astounding as even, Yein.” Anya said respectfully, her head bowing to the older woman.

“Thank you. You made me look...” Drifting off Clarke looked at her reflection again.

“You were already beautiful to begin with, Wanheda.” Yein smiled, and Clarke felt herself blush because beautiful was something she never thought of herself. Especially not now, when anything beautiful about her had been quashed by the deeds of the Wanheda.

With a final respectful nod to the woman, Clarke left with Anya, following her into the lift she had been forced into only a week before.

“Are you nervous?” Anya asked once the cage started to slowly ascend.

“I just want to get this over with so I can leave.”

Out the corner of her eyes, Clarke could see the other woman nodding her head. “Will you return to Arkadia?”

“I-” Truthfully, she hadn't really thought about what she would do once she left. Her only concerns had been getting her people protection. “I don't know. I wasn't ready to go back.”

“You should be amongst your people. Let them help you heal.” The cage shuddered to a stop before the blonde could reply. With a grunt at the strain, Anya pulled open the grating for them to step out.

Singing echoed from the end of the hallway, a melodic voice wrapping around the Trigedasleng lyrics of the song.

“Go ahead, Wanheda.” Anya instructed.

With one last inhale to calm the pounding of her heart, Clarke marched towards the door, her head held high as the guards opened them before her. She could hear the clunk of Anya's boots just behind her.

The sight of Lexa almost had her steps faltering.

A dress hung off the brunettes shoulders and Clarke swallowed down the feelings that swirled in her stomach. She tried her best to ignore the way her palms started to sweat. The way her heart sped painfully.

Clarke could see the apprehension on the Commander's face as she stood before her. The thoughts in her head so loud that Clarke could practically hear her voice asking her if she was going to kneel to her or not. The thought of not kneeling crossed her mind again. They were in front of all the ambassadors. If Wanheda didn't bow now, would the Grounders follow her instead of their Heda? Could almost a century worth of tradition be wiped out by her? Would she really be willing to risk her peoples lives on a power struggle that she had no guarantee of winning?

Clarke would be willing to risk her own life, but to risk the people she had lost so much to save...

With a final look at the Commander's face, Clarke bowed her head and dropped to her knee, breathing heavily as she waited for the song to finish.

“Hail, warriors of the twelve clans.” The Commander called from above her once the last note was sung.

“Hail, Commander of the Blood.” The crowd behind Clarke echoed back.

“Rise.” The leader of the Coalition ordered.

Clarke lifted her head, looking up at the woman in front of her. Lexa's mouth dropped open as Clarke rose to her feet. It was only there for the briefest of moments, but Clarke was sure she spotted a look of awe in the Commander's eyes as she ducked away from her to stand beside Anya.

“We welcome Skaikru to our halls in the spirit of friendship and harmony, and we welcome Clarke kom Skaikru, Legendary Wanheda, Mountain Slayer.”

The titles made Clarke want to crawl in on herself. She knew it was for effect. The name Wanheda invoking more acclaim than the name Clarke ever would.

“The reason for this summit has changed.” The Commander continued, and murmurs started from the clans around her. “We are not here to negotiate a treaty with the Skaikru, but rather to initiate them into the coalition.” The murmurs became louder, the undertones of objection growing. “To symbolize this union, the leader of Skaikru must bear our mark.”

Clarke couldn't see them clearly, but through the gentle hum of the crowd, she could just make out her mothers voice telling Kane to take the mark. Her stomach rolled when the next noise she heard was the brand being pressed against his arm.

It was just at that moment, when Clarke thought everything was finally going to go to plan, that everything fell apart.

The doors to the throne room room flew open.

Before Calrke could even comprehend what was happening, Anya was stepping in front of her, her arm pushing Clarke safely behind her. Just over the General's shoulder, she watched in shock as Bellamy and Octavia came rushing into the room. Both of them had Grounder's in their grips.

“Bellamy?” Clarke asked in disbelief as both the Blake siblings kicked away the guards they were holding.

“What is this?” Anya seethed. A beat of worry for Bellamy and Octavia's lives flashed through Clarke at the anger in the woman's voice.

“The summit's a trap. We need to get you out of here.” Bellamy stated, his eyes making contact with her own.

Clarke's brow creased with confusion because the summit was over. They were the thirteenth clan. If there was a trap, surely it would have been sprung already.

Looking behind her, Clarke looked to the Commander. “What the hell is going on?” She demanded.

“I don't know.” The woman snarled, her eyes never leaving the invaders.

It was when Clarke turned back to Bellamy that she realised there was a third man with them.


“It's the Ice Nation.” Bellamy accused.

From the crowd, a man stepped forwards. Patterned scars swirled around his face, the raised skin standing out in the shadows of the dimly lit room.

“These allegations are an outrage.” He said, but Clarke couldn't help thinking it sounded forced, as if he had rehearsed it time and again. “The Ice Nation never stormed this summit with weapons, breaking our laws. That was the Skaikru.” The Azgeda representative continued.

Clarke felt her heart plummet. They had been part of the coalition for less than a minute and already they were disrespecting the traditions of the Grounders. The guns in Polis were another breach of their laws. Her people were trampling over years of tradition and the blonde knew she was going to have to control the damage somehow.

“We were right about this.” Pike snarled as he stepped towards her mother. “The two guards you left behind are dead already. We need to go now.” The angry lilt in the man’s voice, the way he pointed his gun at the innocent unarmed Grounders around the room was far too alarming for Clarke to ignore.

“How did you come by this information?” Anya demanded.

All three of the invaders paused, looking around their group in confusion.

“Where the hell is Echo?” Octavia asked, her searching getting more frantic.

“What's going on? Where the hell is she?” Bellamy questioned, his own eyes darting around the room.

“Bellamy, maybe we were wrong about this.” Even as Octavia said it she was lowering her sword, and Clarke knew they understood. They had been played. The Ice Nation had tricked them into interrupting the summit, tricked them into brandishing their weapons at the clans who had yet to meet them.

“I don't understand.” The older Blake stated, more to himself as his own gun started to lower.

Kane approached him, his shoulders stiff as he pulled the gun out of Bellamy's hands. “Stand down.” He ordered.

“Bellamy, Bellamy, come in.” Raven's voice suddenly cried from the radio that was attached to the Bellamy's jacket. Clarke felt her muscles seize at the tone of desperation the woman's voice held. “The Grounders attacked Mount Weather.”

“What are you talking about?” Bellamy asked, but Clarke could already see the realisation dawning in his eyes.

“It's gone. It's gone. They're all gone. Sinclair and I are the only ones left. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry.” Sobs filled the silence of the summit, and Clarke ducked her head.

It couldn’t have been Lexa. The certainty she felt that the woman wasn't responsible was startling. Logically, Clarke knew there was nothing the Commander could gain by destroying the Mountain. Betraying a clan she had she had just minutes ago accepted into the coalition. Betraying Wanheda in front of so many people.

The only people who had anything to gain from it were-

“You should have never moved your people back into Mount Weather.” The Ice Nation delegate said directly to Clarke, a cruel smirk twisting on his face before he turned around to address the crowd. “The Ice Nation did what Lexa was too weak to do.” He continued to bait.

“This is an act of war.” The Commander seethed as she stepped down from her platform.

Clarke had seen the woman angry before. She had see her hands shake as her Generals continued to berate her plans. She had seen her jaw clenching as a warrior delivered her news she didn't want to hear. But never had Clarke seen the look of such unrestrained fury on the Commander's face before.

“Sentries, arrest the Ice Nation delegation!” The Commander ordered. “Including the prince.”

Roan left without a fight, merely shrugging off the hold of the guards to walk ahead of them. The delegate on the other hand struggled against grip of his captors.

“Their deaths are on you, Commander!” He cried. “This is on-”

The butt of Anya's sword made a sickening crunching noise against the man's face, blood instantly spurting from his now broken nose. As his head lulled forwards again, Clarke could tell the blow had knocked him out completely.

“Take them to the cells.” Anya ordered the guards. “Go!”

The room was suddenly in chaos. The noise was rising around her, the words of Trigedasleng and English merging together without meaning. As discreetly as she could, Clarke tried to calm her breathing. It felt like the walls were closing in around her, crushing the air from her lungs.

Mount Weather was gone. The people of the Farm station, the people she had never got to meet were dead. Joining the coalition was meant to protect her people and now Clarke couldn't help fearing that perhaps it was too late for her people to be saved. Perhaps the people of the Ark had already done too much damage.

“We need to get home. If they attacked Mount Weather, Arkadia could be next.” Her mother announced, and a new fear jolted through the blonde.

“Go. Marshal your forces. We'll avenge the attack together.” The Commander's voice husked from beside her. Unnoticed to Clarke, the woman had moved closer, her mere presence offering Clarke a comfort she didn't want to acknowledge.

Despite knowing better, Clarke had to remind herself it wasn't Lexa that had attacked Mount Weather. It wasn't the Commander that had just slaughtered her people. It wasn't the Grounders that had just attacked them. It was Azgeda.

Even as her own mind struggled to make the distinction, she knew her people wouldn't be able to. She knew Bellamy wouldn't be able to. They would blame all the Grounders, Clarke realised with startling clarity.

“I'll escort them.” Indra offered.

“Clarke, we need to leave now.” Bellamy tried to order, causing Clarke to bristle at the demanding tone of his voice.

“We need an ambassador from the thirteenth clan to stay here in Polis.” The Commander replied before Clarke had the chance. It made sense that one of them would need to stay behind.

“It's not safe here.” He accused.

“Clarke will be safe here under my protection.” The Commander argued back. As the pair of them stared each other down, Clarke couldn't help wondering if the Commander wanted her to stay because she was Wanheda or if Lexa wanted her to stay because she was Clarke. Getting through to Bellamy wasn't going to work. She knew how suborn he could be when he was upset, there was no way Lexa or her would be able to change his mind. So with his eyes still blazing into her own, Clarke approached her mother instead.

“I have to stay.” She said softly.

“Clarke-” Her mom immediately tried to argue.

“I have to make sure she keeps her word.” Clarke whispered, but she knew Lexa was close to enough to hear her. A part of her wanted the brunette to hear.

Reluctantly, her mom nodded her head. “Take this,” She said, handing Clarke the radio that had been clipped to Bellamy's jacket. “Turn it on everyday at 10am. It has a full battery, it should last a couple of weeks at least. Do you still have your fathers watch?”

“It's with my things, I think it's still accurate.”

“Good, that's,” Her mom smiled. “That's good, Clarke.”

Kane's hand gripped onto her shoulder, the red wound on his arm standing out against the pale skin. “You've got this, Clarke.” He stated quietly, and Clarke felt the swell her heart gave at the confidence he had in her.

“Heda, we must convene the war council immediately.” The man that had been standing beside the Commander for the whole summit muttered.

Lexa looked at her expectantly.

“I'll be right there.” Clarke assured, before turning back to her mother. Without any of her earlier hesitation, the blonde wrapper her arms around her, letting herself bask in her mom's embrace for a moment. “May we meet again.” Clarke whispered to her.

Pulling back, she could see the tears in her mom's eyes. “May we meet again.”

With a final squeeze of her hand, her mom left the room, and Clarke didn't miss the way Kane gripped onto her shoulder in comfort. The rest of her people left behind her, but Bellamy stayed, his disappointed eyes staring at her.

He approached her slowly. “She left us to die on that mountain. She will always put her people first. You should come home to yours.” He tried to convince.

“I can't do that, Bellamy.” Clarke replied, completely unprepared for the look of anger on his face before he charged away from her.

Clarke knew he would come to understand why she had to stay, once the pain of the Mountain had settled. She couldn't worry about him now though. Turning back to the Commander, she nodded her head, because it was time for the war council.

 Clarke wasn't entirely sure what she was expecting for a war council in the Grounder capitol. When she had nervously fretted about it whilst changing back into her clothes, it hadn't been the twelve ambassadors throwing accusations at her.

“The Mountain is cursed land, the Skaikru should not have been there!” One of the ambassadors practically shouted over the noise of the others. Clarke didn't try to reply. She had learnt after the third complaint that the Grounders apparently had a lot they wanted to say to her, but little they wanted to hear in return.

“Enough.” The Commander's voice, dripping with authority, silenced the whole room in an instant. “Wanheda. Why were the Skaikru in Mount Weather?” She asked evenly.

“Medicine.” Clarke answered. “They were taken there for treatment because there wasn't enough room at Camp- at Arkadia. That's all.”

“So many?” The man from Shallow Valley clan asked disbelievingly. “Heda, I would suggest the Skaikru were looking to repopulate the Mountain.”

“Yes, so many,” Clarke replied before Lexa could step in for her. “They were dehydrated, malnourished from their time trapped in Azgeda. The Mountain offered the facilities to treat them, and on mass.” It wasn't quite the truth. The blonde knew full well that her mother had planned on letting the survivors of the Farm station stay there indefinitely. That didn't mater though, she needed to convince the coalition that the Skaikru were innocent in this massacre. She needed the coalition on her side, not against her if she was going to get justice for her people.

“Heda,” the man ignored Clarke and looked straight to his Commander. “You cannot believe this?”

The Commander didn't answer him though, her head merely tilting to the side. The Shallow Valley ambassador took it as a sign to continue. “The Skaikru were planning to use the Mountain to attack us. They are the same as the Maunon. We cannot trust them.”

“The Skaikru are invaders, Heda.” One of the ambassadors sat opposite Clarke added.

The men and women around her all made noises of agreement, muttering amongst themselves in Trigedasleng about the Skaikru invaders. Clarke braced herself, ready for another barrage of complaints.

“No.” The Commander's voice cut across the noise, and the room fell into silence again. “The Skaikru are our allies. They are members of this coalition. Wanheda, was there anything in the Mountain that could have been used against us?”

“Yes.” Clarke replied honestly. “There were missiles, three of them, the same as the one used on Ton DC.” She felt the whole room tense. “However, for the missiles to work we would have needed the codes, a series of numbers and letters, known only to the Mountain Men I killed. Without them?” Clarke looked around the room, making sure to catch the eyes of her most vocal opponents. “They were useless.”

“And the fog?” The Commander asked, but Clarke knew it was only for the benefit of the ambassadors.

“Destroyed during the attack on the Mountain.”

“So. Even if the Skaikru had moved into the Mountain there would have been no threat to us.” The brunette surmised out loud.

Voices erupted around them, the room in chaos again as each ambassador fought to be heard.

“Enough!” The Commander's voice boomed.

Clearing his throat, the man who had been standing next to the Commander's throne stepped forwards to address them all. “Regardless of Skaikru's position in the Mountain, their people have been slaughtered. It is your duty as members of the coalition to see that the perpetrators are brought to justice. Make no mistake ambassadors, this was an act of war by Queen Nia, and not just on the Skaikru, it was an act of war against us all.”

“An act of war?” Asked a woman who Clarke recognised as the ambassador to the Trikru. “The Skaikru burnt my village to the ground. They came to peace talks with weapons, slaughtered innocent villagers and burnt 300 of our warriors in a ring of fire! Were these not acts of war Heda? Where is justice for the Trikru?”

Guilt swirled in the blonde's stomach. Hearing the events listed out like that... Clarke couldn't help wondering if maybe her people didn't deserve the backing of the coalition.

“You dare dishonour our warriors?!” The Commander's voice erupted from the front of the room, making Clarke flinch at the sudden rise in volume. Green eyes blazed down at the Trikru ambassador until the woman sank into her seat, her eyes looking away from her leader.

“The crimes of Finn kom Skaikru have been paid for by Wanheda's own hand. The reason we are free of the Mountain is because of Wanheda. She has done what generations of Commanders have failed to do, she slew the Mountain. Wanheda's actions alone have earned Skaikru their place in this coalition.” The Commander stated firmly, her eyes looking around the room, daring the ambassadors to disagree with her.

“Or perhaps the ambassador for the Ice Nation was correct and this is your weakness showing.” The representative for the Broadleaf Clan accused quietly.

Clarke practically snarled at the insinuation. “Or perhaps your Heda knows that making an enemy of the Skaikru is not in this coalitions best interest.”

The man stood from his seat and Clarke quickly rose to to meet him in the centre of the room, refusing to give him any ground as he drew closer. “Is that a threat, Wanheda?”

Despite the overwhelming urge to answer straight away, to bark back that yes, that was a threat, Clarke turned her head to Lexa. The leader of the coalition waited, staring down at the two of them and the blonde could only assume she was pausing until everyone in the room was looking her way. It was only a few moments later that the Commander nodded, giving Clarke permission to continue.

“Yes.” Clarke hissed at the man.

The room remained silent as the ambassadors stared at her. Sweat was already collecting along the representative of the Broad Leaf's brow, and Clarke could just see the nervous bob of his throat. He blinked his eyes away first, before slowly turning around to return to his seat. Silently, Clarke returned to her own, subtly rolling her shoulders to try and relieve the tension that had gathered between them.

“Azgeda have been a loyal to this coalition for many moons, Heda.” The woman sitting next to Clarke said softly. “Might I suggest we first summon Queen Nia to Polis to explain her actions to the council?”

Noises of agreement spread out across the room. It was possibly the only thing the ambassadors had agreed on all night.

Clarke looked up to see the Commander nodding. “Very well. Wanheda, do you have any objections?”

Despite wanting nothing more than to demand justice for her people, Clarke knew she couldn't push the ambassadors. If she was going to make sure Skaikru became an accepted members of the clans, she would have to give ground to the members that were already there.

“As you say, Azgeda have been a part of the coalition since long before my people were on the ground. They should be heard.” Clarke tried to say as calmly as possible.

“Anya," the Commander called across the room. "Release the Ice Nation delegation. Tell them their Queen has been summoned before the coalition in two days.” She ordered.

“And the Prince?” Anya asked, stepping out of the shadows.

“Prince Roan is to remain within his cell.” The Commander confirmed.

Anya nodded, her head bowing to her Heda before she left the room. Clarke was surprised at the disappointment she felt at seeing the woman leave. The only other person in the room who hadn't spent the night berating her people's choices was Lexa.

“This war council is over.” The Commander announced.

The ambassadors all rose to their feet, gathering in small circles that Clarke knew she wasn't a part of. All except the Trikru representative. Her dark eyes remained staring at Clarke, the unspoken threat in them clear to see. Standing, the blonde was about to introduce herself to the woman when Lexa moved to stand in front of her. She had been so focused on the Trikru ambassador, she hadn't even seen the Commander rise from her throne.

“I'm sorry, Clarke, I did not mean for this to be your first experience as ambassador.” Lexa apologised. Clarke almost rolled her eyes in response. It wasn't like the other woman knew this was going to happen. “You have my word that the Ice Nation will be brought to justice.”

“We both know your word doesn't mean a thing.” Clarke snapped, her frustration from the meeting boiling over at Lexa's attempt to comfort her.

“Heda. Wanheda.” The man who had been with the Commander through out the meeting interrupted. “Apologies, Wanheda, my name is Titus, Heda's most valued advisor and keeper of the flame.”

Lexa looked at the man clearly waiting for him to continue, even though his gaze shifted nervously to Clarke. When it was obvious she wasn't going to move, Titus continued. “The bodies of two guards were found.”

“Who were they?” Lexa asked quickly, her jaw tensing at the news.

“Sal and Andreas.” He replied. “Arrangements are already being made, Heda. They will be burnt at first light.”

“They were working the lift... Andreas...” Suddenly Clarke remembered why the name was familiar to her. It was the guard Anya had greeted when she had dragged her into the tower. “His houmon is with child...“

Closing her eyes, Clarke looked away from the Commander and her advisor, her eyes misting over as she stared at the intricacies of the throne. She forgot sometimes that the lives her people had taken had left family behind. Just like the three hundred warriors she had burnt alive.

Like Quint.

“Ask her to move within the tower." The Commander ordered.

“Heda, the woman is half blind, there is nothing she can offer you.” Titus remarked.

“Do you now question my decisions too, Titus?”

The voices around them fell into silence. Tension seemed to fill the room, making Clarke shift uncomfortably.

Titus quickly tried to defend himself. “No, Heda, I just-”

“Enough.” The command in the woman's voice was so strong that even Clarke felt her back stiffening. “Have her moved to the tower.”

“Of course, Heda.” Titus replied meekly.

When Clarke turned again, she could see the subtle shake of the man's hands as he bowed before his Commander and left.

The rest of the delegates filtered our behind him, but Clarke held her ground by the Commander's throne. It felt familiar, staying behind with Lexa after a meeting. Except back then Lexa used to turn to her with a subtle smirk and a quip about the intelligence of her Generals. Now, even though her shoulders still relaxed as she shed the act of the Commander, she just looked at her with sad, lost eyes.

There was one question that had played on Clarke's mind throughout the meeting, a question she hadn't been able to ask under the assault of the ambassadors. “I keep asking myself, 'how did the the Ice Nation know there was a self-destruct mechanism inside Mount Weather?'”

Lowering her head, Lexa slowly approached her. “We'll get the answer soon, Clarke.” She stopped, keeping a respectful distance that Clarke appreciated. “Thank you for staying.”

“I stayed because it was the right thing for my people.”

“Our people.” Lexa quickly corrected.

“If you betray me again-” She tried to say, her voice lowering dangerously.

“I won't.” Again Lexa cut across her, stepping even closer to her at the same time.

What happened next shook Clarke to her very core.

Lexa lowered herself to her knees in front of her.

“I swear a fealty to you, Clarke kom Skaikru.” She pledged, her green eyes wide and pleading. “I vow to treat your needs as my own and your people as my people.”

Clarke had to remind herself to breathe at the sincerity in Lexa's voice.

She didn't hesitate, her mind still trapped in a haze as she held out her hand to Lexa to take, helping the woman rise to her feet again. There was no mistaking what had just happened. It wasn't the Commander that had just knelt to her, it was Lexa. Lexa had just sworn to protect her, with no one to watch them, with no expectation for her to do so, she had done it.

Lexa's hand was still clutched around hers and Clarke didn't want to think about letting it go. “What now?” She asked instead.

“Now you sleep Clarke.” Lexa's hand squeezed hers lightly.


“I have things to attend to at first light, the meeting of the ambassadors won't be until late morning.” The blonde caught herself just before she got lost Lexa's eyes as she stepped closer. “There is a time for many words, Clarke, there is also a time for sleep.”

Clarke recognised the words. Back on the Ark she had read The Odyssey enough to recognise Lexa's paraphrasing of it. If she hadn't been ready to curl onto the floor and sleep she might have thought more of it.

Finally releasing her hold on Lexa's hand, she stepped away. “Goodnight, Commander.”

“Goodnight, Clarke.”

The guards followed her back to her room, the heavy sound of their feet lulling her into a stupor. Her thoughts should have been racing. The Mountain had just been destroyed, her people were potentially going to go to war with the Azgeda and Lexa had just sworn her loyalty to her.

Yet all Clarke could think of was closing her eyes. Just for a little while.

The doors were swung open for her, letting Clarke walk straight in. She didn't wait for them to close again before she started to strip off her top. Throwing back the furs, Clarke quickly kicked her boots off before sinking onto the soft mattress. Her whole body relaxed, every muscle finally unwinding against the soft material.

With her head against the pillow and the past week heavy on her shoulders, Clarke was asleep before she could even think to cover herself with the discarded furs.

Chapter Text

"Clarke… Clarke… Clarke wake up!"

Clarke jerked awake, her desperate eyes taking in the stark white walls. She recognised the room, but it was impossible, it couldn't be true. The Mountain had been destroyed.

Looking down at herself, Clarke recognised the clothing she was was wearing. It was the same bright white outfit she had found herself in the first time she had awoken in Mount Weather. She also realised, her arms and legs were tied to the bed beneath her.

Desperately, Clarke tried to pull herself free of the restraints that were cutting into her wrists.

"Clarke, come on, we've got to go." A voice suddenly instructed.

Clarke almost choked when she looked down again. The girl that she had seen die in Jasper's arms was unbuckling her restraints.

"Maya? What.. What the hell is going on?" The blonde asked as her wrists finally came loose.

"The Mountain's under attack, we need to leave." Maya demanded. "Now."

"I don't understand-" Clarke tried to say, but Maya was already running towards the door and out of the infirmary. "Maya, wait! Stop!" She called as she scrambled off the bed.

When Clarke made it out to the corridor, the girl was nowhere to be seen.

"Come on! It's not much further." Maya voice cried from behind her. Turning, Clarke was just in time to see her disappearing around the corner at the end of the corridor.

She ran as fast as she could, desperately trying to catch up with Maya. "What's not-"

Clarke's voice caught in her throat at the sight that greeted her.

"This." Stated Maya simply.

The battlefield in front of her still smoked, and Clarke could see the tiny flicker of flames in the distance where the land met the red blazing sky. As far as she could see there was destruction. The trees bare and charred. The grass brown and lifeless. There was silence all around her. Not even the crows that picked at the dead made a sound.

The dead.

Clarke couldn't help staring at the piles of bodies before her. Grounders. Mountain men. Arkers. All of them lying before her. All of them dead.

"What happened?" She asked breathlessly.

"You happened, Clarke." It wasn't Maya's voice any more. Swallowing back the nausea that was rising in her throat, Clarke turned her head in disbelief. She almost emptied the contents of her stomach at the sight of Finn standing beside to her. "Hi Princess."

"You can't wash your hands of all their blood, Clarke." Her mom said from behind her.

Spinning around, the blonde shook her head. "Mom? I didn't- This- I didn't do this!" Tears were pooling in her eyes as she chocked back a sob.

Her mom didn't reply, her eyes drilling into Clarke's accusingly.

Clarke didn't know where he had come from, but the next moment Kane was standing beside her mother. "I'm sorry Abby, we have no choice." Kane squeezed her mom's shoulder before taking the woman's hand. "It's the decision of the council that prisoner 319 be floated."

Backing away, Clarke started to cry. "No... No you can't do this, I'm not 18 yet, mom, please don't let them do-"

With a startled yelp, Clarke fell backwards, her body spinning and tumbling until she landed at the bottom of the mound. The smell of rotting flesh immediately invaded her senses, and Clarke's ears rung as she tried to get her bearings.

"I had to choice, Clarke." Lexa's voice announced from above her.

Looking up, Clarke had to bring her hand to cover her mouth. Her friends all lined the path in front of her. Bellamy. Raven. Octavia. Fox. Monroe. Wells. All of them with their hands pinned on either side of them. All of them with a nail struck between the palm of their hands. All of them crucified.

"No." She whimpered. "You bitch!"

Anger was running hot in her veins again, but when her eyes snapped back to Lexa, it wasn't the Commander looking down at her any more.

Clarke's own face stared down at her, a cruel smirk pulling at the corner of her lips. "Hello, Wanheda."


Clarke shot up in bed, the furs clutched to her chest as she tried to bring her breathing back under control.

It was a nightmare. Just another twisted dream showing her things that were never real.

The Mountain was gone now. Buried under rock and earth. So were the bodies of her people. The thought had Clarke's heart pounding all the more and she fought against her aching chest to pull in enough air.

"Even when you make it to bed, you still don't sleep properly." Anya's voice groaned from beside her. Twisting her body around, Clarke stared at the woman who was she sat slumped in a chair with her feet resting on the bed.

"Anya?" Clarke panted, her breathing still erratic from her dream. "What the hell are you doing here?!"

"Lexa woke me, asked me to check on you." Anya muttered, her head lulling back on the seat. "Go back to sleep, Clarke."

Before Clarke could argue there was a knock at the door.

“Wanheda.” A muffled voice called.

Anya released another groan and sat up. "As only one of us has a top on, I'll get it."

Clarke felt her face flush. She distinctly remembered not pulling the furs over herself the night before.

She didn't have to wait long before the clearly tired woman was flopping back onto the chair. "The ambassador for the Trikru would like to have breakfast with you."

"Wanheda, thank you for joining me." The Trikru ambassador greeted as Clarke walked into her room.

"The pleasure is all mine, Mae." Clarke replied, and she didn't miss the way the ambassadors eyes widened at the use of her name.

The room was similar to Clarke's, except the walls were painted a dark green and a large table, covered in food, was sitting in the centre. There were nuts, berries and Clarke spotted what she thought might have been eggs in a basket. Her mouth was already watering at the sight of it.

"Please sit, let us eat." Mae smiled at her reassuringly, but Clarke couldn't help feeling tense. At the war council the other woman hadn't looked particularly inviting, yet here she was offering the blonde a place at her table. It was almost as if the Sky people hadn't killed hundreds of her people.

As if sensing her discomfort, the woman in front of her smiled. "We have a lot to talk about, Wanheda, but let us eat first."

Clarke nodded before she took her seat at the table. Unsure of what to eat first, she watched Mae instead. The Trikru representative immediately started to spread a sticky substance across a slice of bread, and Clarke blushed when she realised Mae had noticed her staring.

"Have you ever tried honey, Wanheda?" Mae asked.

Clarke remembered reading about it on the Ark. Small flying insects would create homes in boxes and then people would harvest the honey they created. It was nutritious, Clarke remembered that much from her Earth Studies, but she had never thought she would get the chance to taste it.

"No, we never had anything like it back home."

"The Trishana, they produce it in their forest home. Their ambassador always brings us all a pot when we are summoned to Polis." Mae explained whilst she spread more honey across another slice of bread. "Here, try some."

Reaching out, Clarke cautiously took the food from the other woman's hand before tentatively taking a bite. She didn't mean to, but she couldn't help closing her eyes and groaning as she chewed. The flavour was completely different from anything she had ever tasted before.

"The bread is made from Trikru grain." Mae added, a small smile on her face as she watched Clarke's reaction to the new flavour.

The rest of their meal had passed mostly in silence, with Mae only talking to tell Clarke where a certain item of food had come from as the blonde tried to sample everything that was on offer. It amazed her that nearly every clan had made a contribution to the breakfast that lay in front of her.

As she finished her last mouthful of fruit, Clarke wiped her mouth across the cloth that had been placed beside her plate. "I'm glad you invited me here today, Mae."

"Oh, and why is that Wanheda?" The Grounder questioned.

"Our people live side by side. It would be," pausing, Clarke tried to think of the best phrase. "Beneficial for both our people if their ambassadors got along."

"And you think after everything the Skaikru have done to my people, that we can just get along." Mae replied tersely. Clarke felt herself tense as the heavy atmosphere that had been present between them at the war council returned.

Breakfast was over. Now it was time to try and convince the Trikru ambassador that the Skaikru were a beneficial addition, not just for the Trikru, but the whole coalition.

"Yes. Or come to an understanding at least." Clarke explained.

"And what can the Skaikru offer us?"


"We don't want your guns." Mae practically spat, her eyes burning with anger. It took everything for Clarke not to flinch at the sudden change in the woman.

It struck Clarke that the first thing the Trikru associated with her people was a weapon. A weapon that was designed to kill people.

"I didn't mean weapons." Clarke quickly replied, and the other woman looked at her curiously. "I meant medicine, technology to communicate over distances, technology to plant better crop-"

"My people know how to plant crop, Wanheda." Mae snapped, and Clarke knew she had to be more careful to not insult the Grounders. They knew this land. The table full of food in front of them paid testament to the fact they were apt at growing and harvesting food.

"I'm sorry. I meant we have technology that might help you yield a better harvest, or find richer land to grow it on. We have seeds from the old world that you might not have here." Taking in a breath, Clarke looked directly into Mae's eyes. "I know my people have hurt yours. When we first landed we thought we were the only ones here, we didn't know we had landed in Trikru territory."

Mae didn't answer, her head merely tilting to the side as her eyes studied Clarke.

"I'm sorry." The blonde continued honestly. "For the village that was burnt to the ground because of us. For the innocent villagers that Finn killed." Clarke said, and she tried to ignore the way her heart ached at the mention of her first loves name. "But the past is in the past, we can only move forwards, to a more peaceful future, with our clans working together."

Clarke didn't say it, but having the Trikru on her side would benefit her people too. It was one thing to know how to plant and care for crop from a text book. To actually do it on the ground? Clarke wasn't sure her people would be able to procure enough food to last them through the next winter unless the Grounders helped them. Whether it was through teaching them how to plant crop on the ground, or trading for more food, Clarke knew they would need them. The Trikru were key to that.

Clarke couldn't help swallowing nervously as she waited for Mae's reaction to her apology.

A deep laugh suddenly spilt from the ambassadors throat, and Clarke relaxed as the tense atmosphere seemed to disappear again. "Two clans that were at war, brought together by crop?"

Clarke smiled at her, because she suddenly remembered a story from the book Anya had given her. "Did the Plain Riders and Boat People not end a war and make a treaty over rope?"

Mae looked at her with impressed eyes. "Crops it is then, Wanhe-"

"Clarke." The blonde interrupted. "My name is Clarke."

"Then once the Ice Nation have been dealt with, we'll talk crop, Clarke kom Skaikru."

Looking down at her father's watch, Clarke switched on the radio and waited. She was five minutes early according to the still ticking hands on its face, so she let herself get lost in the memories of the device.

Her father would have loved the ground. He would have loved the life, the culture of the Grounders. The sights, the smells, even the language. He would have loved it all. Her dad would have known what to do to make everything fall into place too. Another thought hit Clarke then, about how much she had changed since losing him and she felt the tears well in her eyes. Her father wouldn't even recognise her any more. She wondered if he would be proud of what she had become. If he would even be able to look at her any more.

The radio suddenly crackled into life, abruptly pulling Clarke's thoughts away from her father.

"Clarke?" Despite the dark turn her thoughts had previously taken, the blonde felt a smile pull at her lips at the sound of her mother's voice.

"Mom." She said walking towards the window of her room. "How is everyone?"

"We're fine. Arkadia is fine." Her mom replied. A breath of relief fell from Clarke's lips, but she still rubbed at her temples with her free hand. "The army the Commander promised has already started arriving."

Clarke felt herself relax even more at the news. Lexa was keeping her word. For now her people were protected from the Ice Nation. "Good, that's good." She breathed, the tension slowly leaving her shoulders.

"Are you okay, Clarke? Yesterday was-"

"I'm fine." Clarke interrupted, eager to stay away from the mess of emotion she knew might be waiting for her. "We had the war council last night. Queen Nia has been summoned to Polis-"

"Summoned?" Her mom said incredulously. "Clarke, they murdered-"

"I know, mom. But we can't just demand revenge, we can't keep..." Rubbing at her temple again, Clarke tried to calm herself down. "If we want this coalition to work, we need to make concessions-"

"49 people dead doesn't deserve concessions." Her mom revealed. The number had Clarke's eyes widening. 49. 49 of her people were dead. "Our people will never-"

"Our people don't have a choice." Clarke bit back, trying to bury the way her heart ached at the loss of her people. "We need to make this work, that means respecting the fact we weren't here first." She explained, her voice becoming increasingly desperate. "There's still time to fix the damage we've already done, so just give me time to fix this. Give me time to find a way out of this that doesn't end in our people going to war." There was silence on the other side of the radio, and Clarke tried to steady her breathing. "Just trust me, mom. Please. Just, trust me." She almost whimpered, but the radio remained silent.

Finally, the radio crackled to life again. "I'll do what I can, but they want justice. Pike's already trying to rally support to move against the Grounders. And it's working." Her mom explained.

The news had Clarke's heart sinking. The last thing she needed was a rebellion at Camp Jaha whilst the ambassadors were all looking for reasons to kick the Skaikru out of the coalition.

"Just assure them that the Ice Nation," she stressed, “will answer for Mount Weather."

In truth, Clarke wasn't sure what that would mean. War seemed inevitable, but if she could just find another way... The mentioning of Pike reminded her of what she had overheard in the throne room.

"There were two guards found dead at the bottom of the tower last night. Was that us?" She asked, her teeth worrying her lip as she waited for her mom to answer.

"Yes." Her mother finally admitted. Even though the answer wasn't a surprise, it still had Clarke rubbing at her temples again. "Pike and Bellamy, they thought-"

"I know mom, I get it." And she did. They thought the summit was a trap, that they were all in danger. Clarke just hoped Lexa would understand when she told her the truth. As if on cue, below the tower, Clarke could see the familiar figure of the Commander herself. She must have been returning from the guards funeral.

The funeral they were having because Clarke's people had killed them.

"Mom, I've got to go."

"No, Clarke, we need to talk about you, where have you been-"

"I'll talk to you tomorrow at 10 again." Clarke interrupted, quickly turning off the radio before her mom could pursue her questioning any further.

Indra had already warned her about Pike, but Clarke had made the mistake of thinking it was nothing. Seeing him in the throne room though. Clarke had seen the way he held himself, the way he brandished his gun at the Grounders without caring if they were innocent or not.

Now he was trying to rise against the coalition.

Stashing the radio back into the draws at the side of the room, Clarke quickly bolted out the door.

There was only so much Clarke could fix. Whatever damage Pike was currently causing at Camp Jaha was up to her mother, the Chancellor, to handle. What Clarke could try and fix, was the damage her people murdering more Grounders might have caused.

It was when Clarke was about to turn into the corridor that held the lift, her thoughts still rushing with worry about Pike, that she heard low voices. They were speaking in Trigedasleng, and Clarke slowly peeked her head around the corner. The Broad Leaf and Sankru ambassadors were arguing quietly. Quickly pulling her body back out of sight around the corner, the blonde tried to listen in on their conversation.

"Maybe we made a mistake."

"We couldn't have known that was Nia's plan. We have to see this through, we have no choice." She recognised the voice as the Broad Leaf ambassador, Uzac.

The Sankru ambassador started to speak again, but Uzac quickly cut him off. "Enough. It's too late."

Clarke dug her nails into her palm. They were working with the Ice Queen. Anger started to pool in her stomach and the blonde had to tense her jaw to stop herself from screaming. She knew getting the clans on her side would be difficult, but knowing they were already working with the woman who had just murdered 49 of her people had Clarke wanting to punch her fist bloody against the wall behind her.

She needed to speak to the Commander and warn her, she needed Lexa to fix this. Stepping away from the wall, Clarke took in a deep breath and tried to wipe all traces of anger and frustration off her face before she walked around the corner.

When the ambassadors turned at the sound of her footsteps, she tried to act surprised when she saw them both.

"Good morning." She greeted in purposefully imperfect Trigedasleng.

"Good morning, Wanheda." They said together, bowing their heads to look away from her.

Tapping her foot anxiously, Clarke waited for the lift to arrive, ignoring the uncomfortable shuffling of the ambassadors next to her. It didn't take long. Less than minute later, the cage came sliding into view. Lexa's wide eyes stared at Clarke from the other side of the grating.

"Wanheda." Lexa greeted formally.

"Good morning, Commander. Can we talk?" Clarke eyed the guards that surrounded her. "Alone?"

"Of course," stepping out of the cage, Lexa used her arm to indicate down the corridor. "Come with me."

Clarke only briefly glanced over her shoulder, completely unsurprised when she saw the two ambassadors already whispering to each other.

The walls around her looked familiar, but it took the blonde a moment to realise they were going down the same corridor Anya had taken her through to see her mother. Lexa continued ahead of her, heading straight into the same room her mother had been in too. The guards waiting outside the room bowed their heads, pushing the doors open for them both to enter.

Looking around curiously, Clarke watched Lexa take off her shoulder guard and throw it down upon the bed. The gesture seemed like a familiar one, one that Lexa had done countless times before. Realisation of where they must have been suddenly struck the blonde.

"Is this your room?" Clarke asked.

The other woman was fiddling with the latches on her coat and only briefly looked up to nod her head. "Yes."

Clarke let her eyes fully take in the room at the Lexa's confession. It was a nice room she supposed, with the bed by far the biggest and most extravagant feature. Both the foot and headrest were beautifully carved, with the headrest looming high up towards the ceiling. Fur lined the floor, and Clarke briefly wondered if the pelts were gifts or if the Commander herself had killed them.

There was rust on the wall opposite the foot of the bed, just above head height, and Clarke could see the faint outline of two rings. Scratches littered the space between and below them. Clarke shivered at the implication of what those rings had been used for in the past. There was something else there too. Stepping closer, she squinted her eyes at the dark, almost black stains.

"How are you, Clarke?" Lexa interrupted. Clarke froze, suddenly aware that her finger tips were about to start tracing one of the deeper gauges.

"I'm fine." She replied evenly, turning back to face Lexa. Whilst Clarke had been studying the room, the other woman had opened her coat and Clarke let her eyes linger on the decidedly casual shirt she was wearing underneath.

"Your people were killed yesterday, nobody expects you to be fine. You can take some time to grieve-"

"I said, I'm fine." Clarke abruptly stated.

Truthfully it was starting to worry her. Even though there was definitely a bubbling anger within her, when Clarke let her thoughts linger for too long on what had happened, she still felt fine. She knew she shouldn't be. After killing the people of Mount Weather, she had barely held it together long enough to walk away from Camp Jaha. For two days she sat against a tree trunk, crying herself into fitful bursts of sleep. Yet this time... Past the anger, Clarke felt nothing. Where there should have been heart ache, there was just a void.

"I spoke to my mom." Clarke quickly continued. "It was Pike and Bellamy who killed your guards."

Mournfully, Lexa nodded her head. From her lack of reaction, Clarke could only assume she had already worked it out for herself.

“They will not be welcome back in Polis. If they return..." Lexa looked away from her regretfully. "There is only so much I can do to protect them."

"I'm not sure they deserve it, that my people deserve it." Clarke confessed, her conversation with her mother still playing heavily on her mind. If her people were willing to follow Pike in his quest for vengeance against the Grounders, if they were willing to slaughter more innocent lives to make their own easier-

"Yet you still fight to protect them." Lexa contemplated, looking at her curiously. "Why do you doubt yourself now, Clarke?"

"Because we've killed hundreds of your people. I've killed hundreds of your people. Maybe the ambassadors were right. We're invaders to this land." Clarke confessed. Doubt was swirling through her mind again because what if she couldn't do this. What if she couldn't convince the other clans that her people deserved justice. What if the ambassadors truly were working against their Heda.

"They will come around. Just as they did when Azgeda joined the coalition." Lexa explained calmly, taking a small step towards the blonde.

"But how can you be so sure?" Clarke asked, just managing to keep the desperation out of her voice.

With her hands held behind her back, Lexa slowly approached her.

"Before the Ice Nation became part of the coalition they had one final act of war against us. 400 of my people were guarding the Trikru border when the Azgeda attacked. They didn't invade our land, they simply executed every warrior and took their heads." Emotion swirled in Lexa's eyes, and Clarke watched as the woman became seemingly lost in her own thoughts for a few moments. "The ambassadors were just as resistant then as they are now. Nobody likes to have change forced upon them, Clarke, but they will accept that this is a necessary one."

"Maybe this was one change too far." Clarke whispered, before pulling nervously at the sleeves on her shirt. "I think the ambassadors knew the Ice Queen was going to attack us yesterday."

"We all knew she was planning something, it's why I asked you to join the coalition-"

"No it's not that. The ambassador for the Sankru..."

"Naois?" Lexa provided.

Suddenly conscious of the guards outside the room, Clarke stepped closer to the brunette. "He told Uzac that maybe they had made a mistake trusting her, but Uzac told him it was too late for them to turn back now."

Lexa looked away from her briefly, the conflict on her face clear to see. "One of the scouts tracking the Ice Nation warrior spotted ten of the ambassadors leaving the tower last night. I suspect they were meeting with Nia." She confessed.

Ducking her head, Clarke couldn't help the feeling of hopelessness that washed over her. "What are you going to do?"

"Let her play her hand." Lexa replied confidently, making Clarke's head snap back up in confusion. "Things will work out the way they are supposed to, Clarke."

A loud knocking on the door startled them both. Suddenly, Clarke was aware of just how close she and Lexa had become. There was barely a breath of space between them. With her face flushing, the blonde quickly stepped back.

"What is it?" Lexa called out, the harsh tone of command slipping into her voice instantly.

Titus pushed the doors open, his eyes scowling towards Clarke briefly. "Anya said you were here with Wanheda..."

"Yes." The Commander replied stiffly, her hands returning to their position behind her back as she turned to face him fully. "What is it, Titus?"

"The council meeting, it is about the begin."

"We'll be there shortly." She confirmed, before turning her attention back to Clarke.


"Leave, Titus." The Commander practically growled. Clarke wasn't sure if their relationship had always been this way, but she saw the twitch of anger Titus sent her way before he left.

"We should go-" Clarke began to say, already making her ways towards the door.

"You've learnt our language haven't you?" Lexa asked in Trigedasleng, making Clarke pause. Weighing up the options in her head, Clarke knew even if she denied it now, even if she pretended she didn't understand, Lexa wouldn't believe her.

Slowly, she turned back to face the other woman, nodding her head lightly. "Yes."

Lexa studied her thoughtfully for a moment. "Tell no one, not even Anya." She instructed.

Clarke could read between the lines of what Lexa was telling her to do. "You want me to spy?"

Lexa smirked, just one corner of her mouth pulling up. "Is that not what you were doing already?"

The council meeting had been longer than Clarke anticipated, dragging long into the afternoon before they finally finished.

They spoke of war, of provisions for soldiers, of where they should meet the Ice Nation for battle. The ease that each ambassador lied left a bitter taste in the back of the blonde's throat. All of them were pretending that they hadn't been to see the Ice Queen. All of them were pretending that they intended to stand by their Heda during the war.

Clarke had left the throne room immediately, not stopping to talk to anyone as she hastily made her way to her room. The guards outside had looked terrified when she asked them where Roan was being kept, but after an awkward look between them, they had eventually directed her to the bottom of the tower. There was only one way Clarke could think of to avoid the war they had been preparing for whilst at the same time, satisfying her peoples thirst for revenge.

"Prince Roan." Clarke greeted when she stepped down into the room the man was being held in.

Looking up from his seat on the floor, Clarke could just make out the dark look he gave her. "Wanheda."

"How's prison life treating you?" She asked, taking in his slightly hunched form.

Roan let out a dark chuckle. "How's the life of an ambassador treating you?"

"Better food." The blonde replied, indicating to the half eaten oats in Roan's bowl.

"You didn't kill her." Roan stated simply, and Clarke shook her head.


Silence fell between them, the man picking at his teeth with his finger. "Are you going to ask the question you came here to ask, Wanheda?"

Clarke drew closer to the bars. "Why does the Ice Queen want coalition to fall?"

"Because she doesn't believe the Trikru deserve to be on the throne." He answered. The book in her room had mentioned the war between the Trikru and Azgeda, but it had never said why the conflict had begun. As if he sensed her question, Roan continued. "I wasn't my mothers only son, but Heda saw to it that I was her only remaining one." Clarke furrowed her brow. "My mother believes my brother, Roch, should have been the Commander, not Lexa."

"Why?" She asked, still confused as to why the Queen thought Azgeda deserved to be on the throne anymore than the Trikru. "Because he was Ice Nation?"

"Azgeda is the reason our Heda's former master isn't Commander any more. When all the other clans quaked it was us, the Azgeda, that pulled him from power, not the Trikru, not the Sankru, us." Roan seethed. Suddenly he was on his feet, his hands gripping onto the bars as he stared at her. "All of us suffered under his reign. My mother sacrificed herself for her people to ensure Azgeda wouldn't suffer the brunt of his wrath."

It all started to make sense. The reason Queen Nia was so intent on dethroning the current Commander. "Then Lexa became Heda instead."

"My mother has never forgiven her for it." Roan muttered, his voice finally calming down.

"But she still banished you. Her only remaining son." Clarke wondered out loud.

"What do you know of banishment, Wanheda? Other than the one you imposed on yourself."

Clarke knew she needed to find common ground with the man. There was one story that might work, even if retelling it made her skin crawl. "I know what it's like to have your own mother cast you out. I know what it's like to have her kill your own father and then have you imprisoned. I know what it's like to want to do the right thing and be punished for it."

Lowering his hands from the bars a look of understanding passed over Roan's face. "My mother killed my father in a fit of rage." He revealed, his eyes looking above Clarke's head, seemingly lost in his memories. "She had him executed for surrendering some of his army to the Commander. My mother is smart, but she lets her anger and resentment guide her choices too much."

Clarke left the silence between them, waiting for Roan to decide if he wanted to continue their discussion or send her away. "What do you want, Wanheda?" He eventually asked.

"I want to avoid a war. I want the Ice Queen to pay for what she's done to my people. I want peace." Clarke emphasised, moving even closer to the bars again. "I want you to become King."

"And what makes you think I'll be a better leader than my mother?"

"Because." Clarke smiled, remembering what Pheme had told her the first day they had met. "You couldn't kill her."

"Who?" A tone of confusion slipped into Roan's voice.

"Costia." Clarke guessed. "You couldn't kill her, and that's why Lexa granted your request for banishment." Clarke didn't say it, but if the Prince's story about his father was true, then it was likely his mother had called for his head. It was banishment or death.

Roan sneered at her. "It was more than that, because of me, Heda got to burn her love whole."

Squinting her eyes at him, Clarke pressed him to continue. "Why?"

"To ensure I would get safe passage to my banishment in the Dead Lands."

"You didn't need the Commander for that, you could have just gone there yourself." Clarke assessed. It took a moment, but suddenly Roan's real reasons started to become clear to her. "You wanted to secure her favour, because you knew a time like this would come. You knew there would be an opportunity for you to be King, and you would need the Commander to support that." She deduced out loud.

Roan chuckled darkly, his head shaking. "Maybe we are more a like than I thought, Wanheda."

Their story was similar. Betrayed by the mothers that had killed their fathers. Outcast from their people for the simple crime of wanting to do the right thing. Both of them willing to do anything for the sake of their people.

"So what's your play in this?” Roan finally asked, before smiling. “Ah, don't tell me, you want the Azgeda to swear allegiance to Skaikru."

"I want Azgeda to be loyal to the coalition."

Smirking at her, Roan returned to his seat on the floor. "That's a nice dream. It's a shame my mother will stand in the way of it."

The conversation was over, but Clarke could just about make out the thoughtful look on Roan's face in the darkness. "We'll see each other again soon, King Roan." She said, and she heard the light scoff he made at his title.

Walking back up the stairs into the tower, Clarke blinked at the sudden brightness. It was as her eyes were adjusting that a body tackled her against the wall. She didn't have the chance to fight, an arm was already pressing against her neck before she could even fathom what was happening.

"You talk with the enemy." Titus growled, his arm pushing painfully against her throat. "I knew this was a mistake, I told her trusting your kind was a mistake."

"Let. Me. Go." Clarke gasped, her hands pushing against his sleeve as she struggled to breathe.

"I won't let you betray her, Wanheda."

Clarke's chest constricted frantically as she tried to draw in a breath. Blackness was already dancing across her vision, and she knew in a few more moments she would lose consciousness. Shifting one of her hands behind her back, the blonde went to pull out the dagger she had stashed there.

"Release her now!" The Commander's voice snarled from the end of the corridor.

Immediately, Titus stepped back. The sudden disappearance of the man's arm had Clarke tumbling to her knees. Spots of black started to dance across her eyes as oxygen finally returned to her body in heaving gasps.

"Clarke are you okay?" Lexa's hand felt hot on her back, and Clarke quickly shrugged it off.

"I'm fine." She croaked.

"Aren't we meant to not attack ambassadors?" Clarke heard Anya comment, suddenly aware of the woman's presence at her side. Using the General's arm as leverage, Clarke let her help her to her feet.

"Explain. Now." The Commander snapped. Clarke didn't miss the way Anya's hand lightly touched the enraged woman's clenched fist.

"She was talking to the Prince. Plotting against you no doubt-"

"You're getting delusional, old man." Anya muttered.

"And you," Titus whirled around to face Anya. "All you do is encourage her. You blind Heda to the threat she is." He said, angrily pointing towards Clarke.

Clarke watched on as Lexa's jaw tensed, her eyes darkening. "If you touch her again, I'll kill you myself." She threatened, the dangerous tone of her voice making goosebumps erupt over Clarke's skin.

Titus stared at his Heda, his mouth opening and closing in shock. Looking down, Clarke noticed Anya once again tapping against her former seconds hand.

"Go, Titus." Anya ordered, her finger still tapping.

With last regretful look at Lexa, Titus finally walked away from them.

Clarke let her body sag back against the wall, her breathing finally returning to normal.

"Come on, lets get you back up the tower, Wanheda." Anya whispered.

It was evening, but Clarke's throat still burnt uncomfortably from the pressure Titus had exerted on it. Both Anya and Lexa had escorted her back to her room, both of them hovering close as if she was going to collapse at any moment.

It had been the end to an overly long day, and Clarke rubbed her hands over her freshly washed face as she sat on the bed.

The Trikru ambassador was on her side. Or at least she wasn't completely against Clarke's side any more. With their army outside the gates of Camp Jaha, Clarke knew it was important she kept it that way. She would have to talk to her mother in the morning, maybe there was something in the Ark they could offer the army as a show of gratitude for Mae's allegiance. There wasn't any doubt in her mind that Mae hadn't been amongst the ambassadors who had gone to meet the Ice Queen. Clarke knew now the animosity between the clans ran too deep for the Ice Queen to even consider courting the Trikru into betraying their own Commander.

Then there was Prince Roan. As if on cue, her throat gave another twinge of pain at the thought of him. It was a long shot, but Clarke knew if she could somehow get him to become King they could avoid the war that was almost upon them.

A sharp knock at the door interrupted her thoughts.

Sighing, Clarke pushed herself up from the bed to open them. She was surprised to find Anya on the other side, patiently waiting for her to open up.

"Don't you normally just walk in?" Clarke croaked, opening the door wider to let the Grounder enter.

"After today I thought knocking might be prudent." Anya explained, stopping just within the entrance. Reaching into her pocket, she pulled out a small vial of dark liquid."Take this before you sleep."

"What is it?" Clarke asked, taking it out of Anya's hand curiously.

"It will help you sleep."

"I don't need-"

"After war it can be difficult to sleep easy. Our warriors sometimes take it." Anya explained calmly. "As does Heda."


"When her head gets too loud." Anya said.

Clarke could understand the feeling. Her head ached, and she wondered if it was nights like this when Lexa would take the medicine in her hand. She wondered if the Commander dreamt like she did. If she ever closed her eyes and saw the faces of all the dead bodies she had left behind.

Anya left soon after, leaving Clarke to set about blowing out the candles that littered her room until she was left with just the faint glow of the batch by the door. Climbing beneath the furs of her bed, with the vial still in her hand, Clarke let it roll across her palm.

It had been months since she had slept the whole night through without dreaming, and her body thrummed at the thought of sleeping uninterrupted till morning.

With her mind made up, the tired woman opened the tiny container and swallowed back the surprisingly sweet tasting liquid. Clarke couldn't be sure how exactly long she lay in bed after that, but she knew the second hand on her fathers watch had barely made its way around the face once before her eyes were drifting shut.

Chapter Text

 Rubbing at her eyes, Clarke tried to process exactly what it was that had awoken her. Light was already streaming through the curtains and it was startling for her to realise she had just slept through the whole night without dreaming.

"Wanheda?" A muffled voice called through the door.

Clarke glared at it. At least she knew why she was awake now. Shuffling out of the bed, the barely awake woman slowly made her way to the door.

The guard stiffened at the sight of her. "Heda has requested your presence for breakfast." The woman informed her.

"Now?" Clarke asked. She ignored the way the guards face twitched with unease at her presence. The reaction was becoming far too familiar to her.

"Yes, Wanheda." The guard nodded.

"I need to change." She muttered before letting the door slip shut again.

Opening the closet, the blonde couldn't help admiring the selection of clothing that had been provided for her. A multitude of tops hung from the railing, each one a different hue of blue and a perfect fit for her body. She refused to let her thoughts linger for too long on the prospect of Lexa herself choosing them for her.

Clarke was inside the Commander's bedroom a few minutes later, her eyes still heavy from sleep.

"Wanheda." The Commander greeted formally.

Clarke bowed her head. "Heda."

The guards, apparently satisfied with their exchange closed the doors. The second the wood clicked back into the frame, Clarke could see Lexa's shoulders visibly relax.

"How did you sleep, Clarke?" She asked tentatively.

"Well." The blonde replied simply, before asking the question that had been playing on her mind since Anya had visited her the night before. "Did you ask Anya to give me the vial last night?"

Lexa stiffened slightly before answering. "Yes. You looked tired, I thought it might help."

Instantly, Clarke wanted to snap back at her that she didn't need help and from the way the other woman's shoulders tensed again, she wondered if Lexa was expecting the exact same rebuttal. She had to consciously remind herself that they were on the same side. Lexa had sworn to protect Clarke and her people. She didn't have to be so visibly angry at the woman any more.

Taking a deep breath, Clarke let a small smile pull at her lips. "Thank you."

Lexa blinked for a few moments, her eyes searching Clarke's face as if she was expecting her to say something else. Clarke stayed quiet though and eventually the other woman nodded her head, before taking a seat at the table.

Clarke followed her lead and immediately started to spread some of the crushed fruit across the bread Lexa had provided her.

"Why the breakfast?" She asked after chewing her way through the bread on her plate.

"I wanted to apologise." Sorrowful eyes looked at her. "The way Titus acted yesterday was unacceptable. It will not happen again."

"And..." Clarke pressed, because she knew Lexa hadn't brought her to her room just to apologise.

"Queen Nia arrived during the night."

The revelation had Clarke opening and closing her mouth in shock. Truthfully, she had started to think that maybe the Ice Queen wouldn't come to Polis. That she would just attack her people and the army that guarded them.

"You must be careful with her, Clarke. She will react quickly to emotion, but she is no fool."

Numbly, Clarke nodded her head at Lexa's advice whilst her mind tried to digest the information. The Queen was there in Polis. Her people were going to get justice.

"I spoke to Prince Roan about her yesterday." Clarke revealed, though she was sure Lexa had already guessed the topic of their conversation.

"And what did he tell you?" The other woman asked as she scrapped her knife across another slice of bread distractedly.

"That you killed Nia's son."

Lexa paused her movements and glanced up at Clarke. "It was the only way to become Heda."

"They were your friends? The others you had to kill to become the Commander?" Clarke pushed, curious as to what actually happened at the conclave.

Lexa visibly swallowed. "They were."

Clarke almost bit back at her, almost told her that her knack of betraying people she was supposedly loyal to had started young. She wanted to hurt Lexa.

It was the light sheen to her green eyes that stopped her though. It was the way Lexa suddenly looked down studiously at the over scrapped bread in her hand. It was the way Clarke's heart unexpectedly broke to know that to become Heda, Lexa had been forced to kill her friends.

"Love is weakness."

It was the way Lexa's mantra about love suddenly hurt so much more.

Clarke shook her head lightly, desperate for her string of thought to stop. These weren't thoughts she should have been having. The Commander was a means to and end. She was the key to her people being safe. It shouldn't matter to the blonde whether the woman on the other end of the table felt lonely.

"He wants to be King." Clarke quickly said.

"And do you think he should be?"

Lifting the cup of tea to her lips, Clarke savoured the sweet flowery taste for a moment before replying. "Yes."

Smirking, Lexa took a sip from her own cup. "A few conversations is all it's taken for you to decide he should be a King?"

"No." Clarke didn't know Roan. She knew they were similar, and she hoped she was right about her assumption that the man just wanted to do right by his people. The point was, if Lexa thought the Prince was a bad man, if she thought his influence on her would be negative, then Clarke was sure she never would have been allowed to even meet the man. The Commander had enough power to have kept him locked away somewhere else in the tower. It wasn't an accident that they had met. "It's the fact that you've let me have those conversations."

"Clarke, I wouldn't-" Lexa began, her eyes widening slightly in subtle panic. Clarke already knew from her expression that she was going to tell her that she would never stop her from talking to someone if she wanted to. That she would never try to control her like that.

"If he wasn't fundamentally a good man then you wouldn't have let me talk to him at all. We wouldn't have even met." Clarke pointed out.

Lexa looked taken aback by her revelation. "Perhaps." She simply replied, taking a bite out of the bread on her plate.

They ate in silence for a few moments, but Clarke knew the conversation wasn't quite over. Lexa was just using the time to think.

"Roan is loyal to his people." The brunette finally said and Clarke creased her brow. The way the other woman said it, made it sound like that was a bad thing. "If siding with his mother will protect them, he will not hesitate to do it." She explained and once again Clarke had to bite back her retort about the Commander knowing exactly what it was like to side with the enemy to protect her own people.

Instead, Clarke smiled. "But after today there will be no Queen."

The corner of Lexa's lip twitched upwards for the briefest moment. "But there will be a King."

Catching sight of her watch, Clarke quickly fumbled her hand into her pocket to pull out the radio.

"I almost forgot, my mom wanted to check in again this morning." She explained distractedly whilst switching the device on. With fumbling hands, she tuned the frequency to the right number. "I don't really understand how this works."


Looking up from the device, Clarke furrowed her brow. "What?"

The radio in her hand crackled loudly, making Clarke wince as her mom's voice echoed around the Commander's room. "Clarke, are you there?"

Quickly twisting the knob back around, Clarke pressed down on the receiver. "Yeah, yeah I'm here."

There was an audible sigh of relief from the radio. "How are you? Is everything okay?" Her mother questioned worriedly.

"I'm fine mom, the Commander's here with me." She added before her mom could say anything painfully awkward about the other woman.

"Oh- I- Commander good morning."

"Good morning, Chancellor." Lexa called from across the table.

"Is everything okay at Camp- at Arkadia?" Clarke asked.

"We had the service for those we lost yesterday. Things have been," her mom paused for a moment. "Quiet."

"The spare water purification system, did we ever fix it?" The question had been playing on Clarke's mind since her conversation with Mae the day before. If they were going to start building bridges with the Grounder's, offering them a quicker, cleaner supply of water would be the perfect opportunity to begin.


"Did we fix it?" She pressed.

Her mom paused, and that was answer enough to Clarke. "Yes." She finally admitted.

"Make it available to the Trikru army." Clarke said, watching as a curious look appeared on Lexa's face at her request.

"Clarke, if our system goes down-"

"It's just for a few days, mom, just whilst the army is protecting you." She quickly explained. "Think of it as a good will gesture."

A light seemed to go off in Lexa's eyes. The smile that followed was one Clarke was sure looked at awful lot like pride.

"Pike and his supporters aren't going to let us just give it to the Grounders." Her mom continued to fret.

"They don't have a say in it." Clarke flinched at the harshness of her own voice. "Just- Don't tell them, have Bellamy help, he'll be able to talk some of them around." There was silence on the other side of the radio and Clarke felt her stomach drop. "Mom?"

"Bellamy's girlfriend was in Mount Weather." Closing her eyes, the blonde rubbed at her temple with her free hand because she knew what her mom was about to tell her. "He's joined Pike."

"Can Lincoln help? Maybe the Grounders can come to collect it instead of us taking it to them?" Clarke suggested.

"I'll talk to him." There was another pause, and Clarke was sure she could just make out the sound of Kane in the background. "What about Polis? Is there any news about the Ice Nation?"

Before Clarke could answer, Lexa was standing from her seat to get herself closer to the radio.

"The Ice Nation border remains quiet. Queen Nia arrived in Polis late yesterday." Lexa answered for her. "We'll be having our summit soon. Your people will be getting their justice, Chancellor."

The noise in the throne room fell away the second Lexa and Anya walked through the doors together.

Titus was hot on their heels, shooting Clarke a withering look the second he saw her. The light bruise on her neck was covered by the high collar of her top, but her throat still contracted uncomfortably at the memory of the man pinning her against the wall.

Roan had already been escorted into the room, his wrists bound together with cuffs and chain. It wouldn't be for long though. With the Queen finally in Polis, the blonde knew that the Prince would soon become the King. Roan would be King and the threat of war would be gone.

"Sit." The Commander ordered as she gracefully took her own seat on the throne.

Anya nodded her head in greeting to Clarke and passed out of sight behind her chair.

"Ambassadors of the Coalition, today we honour our covenant. The clan that stands against one of us stands against us all." The Commander announced.

"Bring in the accursed." Titus demanded from his position next to the throne.

Instantly the doors were thrown open again.

A gust of air passed through the open windows and Clarke wasn't sure if it was the sudden drop of temperature or the sight of the Ice Queen herself that sent a shiver down her spine.

Two guards marched her in, their hands clutched around woman's arms.

The same decorative scars that adorned Roan's face swirled across his mother's, the raised flesh easily visible from Clarke's seat. Everything about her exuded strength. From the strong set of her jaw to the piercing blue eyes that glared at the Commander.

Roughly, the guards forced the Queen of Azgeda to her knees.

Clarke studied the woman. This was the person who had ordered the attack on her people. This was the woman who had killed 49 of people. This was the woman who was trying to force them into a war that Clarke didn't want.

"Queen Nia of Azgeda has confessed to the destruction of Mount Weather, resulting in the death of 49 members of Skaikru." Titus said to the room before directing his attention straight to Clarke. "Wanheda, what say you?"

"Skaikru demands justice." She stated simply, looking straight into the Commander's eyes.

"The Ice Nation does not answer to this girl." Nia snarled in Trigedasleng. Clarke knew the use of the language was purposeful.

"Silence!" Titus interrupted. "The punishment for your crime is death. Do you have anything to say in your defence?"

"I need no defence." Nia smirked. It was in that instant that Clarke knew something was about to go terribly wrong. With a cruel smile on her face the Queen glared at her Heda. "She does.”

The Commander's head tilted, her jaw tightening at the Ice Queen's insubordination.

“Today is judgement day.” Nia continued, her chin jutting out in defiance. “I call for a vote of no confidence."

Clarke kicked herself for not realising it earlier. She had been so caught up in the thought of getting justice for her people that she hadn't even seen it coming. Nia arriving in Polis was too easy. Even with her son being held captive, her surrender had been too effortless. Of course she had come to the city with a plan.

"Take this Queen to meet her fate." Titus ordered and the guards began to approach her again.

"Not so fast." The elderly ambassador for the Boat People announced. Dread started to swirl in Clarke's stomach as the man rose to his feet. "Commander no longer."

A second latter both the Broad Leaf and Plane Riders ambassadors were standing, both of them repeating his words. "Commander no longer."

"Take them away, too!" Titus bellowed, pointing the guards towards those that had called out against their Heda.

"Wait." The Commander called, silencing the room.

Clarke's mind swirled with the possibility of what was unfolding before her. She couldn't hear what Titus was saying to Lexa, but it didn't matter, because she was raising her hand to silence him almost instantly.

"Let her make her move." The Commander practically drawled.

All the other ambassadors started to rise to their feet, all of them calling out the same phrase and Clarke desperately looked to Mae. She was angry, her eyes practically drilling into the side of Nia's head as her jaw visibly tensed. The woman remained seated though, and Clarke was glad that Lexa at least had the backing of her own clan.

"Commander, what is this?" Clarke asked, urgently trying to get Lexa to look at her, but the other woman's eyes were fixed on the woman in front of her. Truthfully she knew exactly what this was. She knew what Nia was trying to do, she just didn't want it to be true.

"This is a coup." The Commander stated flatly.

"This is the law," Nia said directly to Clarke, her cold blue eyes almost making the blonde flinch. Slowly, Nia pushed herself to her feet and glanced towards Lexa. "Her law to stop another Commander like him. A unanimous vote of the ambassadors or death are all that can remove a Commander from power."

"Not everyone." Clarke instantly challenged and Nia laughed harshly.

"Oh, silly girl. Every ambassador knows a member of the Commander's own clan can't take part in a vote of no confidence." Nia explained, the patronising tone slipping into her voice easily as her head jerked towards where Mae was still sitting.

Clarke pushed herself to her feet. She could feel the eyes of the room on her. "I was talking about me."

"Enough, Wanheda." Anya's voice suddenly said from beside her. The woman's strong hand gripped onto her shoulder, gently pulling her back towards the seat.

"Anya, I didn't see you lurking in the shadows." A smug look appeared on Nia's face. "Tell me, how are your parents?"

This time it was Clarke reaching out to stop Anya, only just managing to grab onto her arm as she jerked forwards. "How is your son?"

The chains around the Ice Queen's wrist strained. "Watch your tongue or I'll see to it that it's removed." Nia hissed in harsh Trigedasleng, her eyes glaring straight at the General.

"I will not renounce this Commander." Clarke quickly interrupted through clenched teeth before Anya could retort. "This vote is not unanimous."

"Your vote doesn't count, Wanheda. I don't recognize the legitimacy of Skaikru." Nia said flippantly, and once again Anya had to grip onto her arm.

"We do." Titus announced, his voice finally drawing the Ice Queen's attention away from her. "Yesterday Skaikru took the brand. They are the thirteenth clan. This vote of no confidence fails. All these coup plotters," his arm pointed across the whole room. "Will suffer the exact same fate as the Ice Queen."

Even as the ambassadors started to share concerned looks, Nia merely sneered. Once again her gaze fell to the Commander. "She won't take our heads because she knows our armies will retaliate. None of us here wants war."

"We both know what you want, Nia." The brunette seethed, her lip curling with barely suppressed rage. From her seat, Clarke could see the way her hands trembled as she tried to control her anger. Rising from her throne, the Commander stood before the Nia. "If you think me unfit to command, issue the challenge and let's get on with it."

"Very well.” Nia replied, a cruel smirk on her face once more. “You are challenged."

Clarke couldn't help looking between the two, trying to unravel exactly what it was the leader of the coalition was being challenged to.

"And I accept your challenge." The Commander snarled back.

"So be it. Single combat. Warrior against warrior to the death." Titus announced to the room. "Queen Nia of Azgeda, who do you choose to be your champion?"

"My son Roan," finally looking away from Lexa, Nia smiled at her son. "Prince of Azgeda."

"Heda, who will fight for you?" Titus asked quietly.

Clarke saw Anya straighten her shoulders and she felt her heart unexpectedly clench. The woman was the obvious choice. Clarke had seen her fight, she had experienced her fighting. The challenge would fail. Nia would be executed. Roan would become King. Her people would be safe.

It was unexpected then when the Commander turned away from Nia, and returned to her throne. "I'm the Commander." It felt like her chest was going to implode as Clarke felt the panic starting to take over. "No one fights for me."

Titus looked as lost as she felt, his eyes darting across his charge's face. This was meant to be about getting justice for her people, but suddenly Lexa's life was hanging in the balance, and Clarke's racing thoughts couldn't quite focus as the walls of the room started to close in on her.

"Then tomorrow, at the midday sun, you will fight." Clarke blinked in surprise at Titus's revelation. She had a day to fix it. She had a day to make this right. "All of you, you are dismissed."

Clarke wanted to stay behind, she wanted to talk to Lexa, she wanted to find out what the hell was happening. Mae was walking towards her before she could though, and Clarke struggled against the hold of her hand against her arm. "Come with me."

Lexa and Titus were already arguing in hushed whispers, and Clarke knew she wouldn't be able to get close with the man still there. Reluctantly she let Mae lead them away from the throne room and into on of the smaller rooms that branched off the main corridor.

Anya followed not two steps behind them, the anger rolling off her almost palpable.

The second the door closed behind them, Anya sent the table in the centre of the room crashing across the floor. The paper that had been resting on it floated slowly to the floor. Anya was panting, her shoulders tense as she glared at the wreckage in front of her.

"I don't understand, why are they all siding with the Ice Queen?" Clarke asked with wide eyes, her mind still desperately trying to understand what had just happened.

Mae scoffed. "That fool Naois would have turned first. Just one mention of the last Sankru Commander and he'll bend to anyone's will."

The others, Clarke understood. Reading the history of the clans had taught the blonde that their past had been a bloody one. Each one betraying the other time and again. But there was one thing that remained consistent throughout. Two clans that had been allies from the very beginning. "The Boat clan as well though? I thought they were the Trikru's closest allies."

Anya and Mae stared at each other. Clarke could almost see cogs turning in the their minds.

"They wouldn't." Anya finally said aloud. Looking back at Mae again, she straightened up. "Send a rider to Luna, tell her she's needed in Polis."

Mae was already shaking her head. "She swore never to return here, not after-"

"Tell the coward she either returns to Polis or this coalition shatters." Anya snapped at her and even Clarke felt her spine stiffen at the sound of her voice.

Nodding her head Mae backed away to the door. "Then it is done."

After Mae's retreat, Clarke watched nervously as Anya started to pace the room. The names of the different ambassadors were dropping amongst her muttered Trigedasleng threats.

"Are you okay?" Clarke asked.

Anya was swirled around abruptly, forcing Clarke stumble back. "Don't pander to me, Sky girl!"

Clarke flinched at the tone of the other woman's voice, her feet stumbling back further. Anya instantly deflated. "I'm sorry."

Clarke left Anya to pace for a while longer before pressing her again. "What she said about your parents-"

"They were guarding the border from the Azgeda when they were attacked. Even after they joined the coalition Nia refused to return their heads." Even from the other side of the room, Clarke could see Anya's usually hard eyes softening. "She said she lost them."

Shaking her head, Anya straighten up again. "I need to speak with Mae."

"What should I do?" Clarke asked, desperate to do something to help stop Nia's challenge.

Anya's eyes pinned her with the intensity of their glare. "Nothing."

Clarke managed to follow Anya's instructions for only a couple of hours.

At first she was content to read through the history of the Grounders again. Switching from clan to clan, she tried to figure out their motivation for turning on their Heda. Despite what Lexa had said to her, Clarke couldn't help wondering if inducting the Skaikru into the coalition had been the change that led to their revolt.

The itch for to do something more productive was soon too much though. It was why she found herself striding towards the throne room.

The guards didn't question her as they opened the doors for her. She hadn't even made it two steps inside before her step faltered though.

"What are the three pillars of being a Commander?" Lexa asked the children that were sat around her throne. She was dressed casually, her coat and shoulder guard nowhere to be seen.

With a relaxed smile, the brunette pointed towards each child that raised their hand.




Small voices all answered, and Clarke's breath caught in her throat at Lexa's smile as she praised them. Shaking her head, she looked away from the scene in front of her to talk to Titus.

"Did you talk her out of it?" She asked him, ignoring the way he glowered at her presence.

"No." Titus gritted out from between his teeth. He didn't want to speak to her, that much was obvious, but Clarke needed him to tell her where Lexa was with her decision to fight.

"I don't understand. Nia's not fighting. Why should she?" She pressed.

"The Queen's strength is not in doubt. Thanks to you," His head whipped around to look at her, his eyes staring into hers angrily. "Heda's is."

The lesson was apparently over, and Clarke listened to Lexa giving the children one final round of praise. "Train hard and remember, you are each worthy of your Nightblood."

Clarke's brow furrowed, she had heard the term before. Multiple times. Whatever a Nightblood was apparently held importance in Polis.

"Nightblood's!" Titus's voice boomed from next to her, his hands clapping together once. "Follow me."

All of the children rose to their feet, quickly scurrying to form a line behind the man. Lexa stood from her throne, walking down behind them before calling out. "Aden, stay."

A small boy with scruffy blonde hair at the back of the line stepped out and waited for the others to leave. His back straightened, and his small hands clenched his sword tightly to his chest.

"Clarke, this is Aden." Lexa introduced. "Aden is the most promising of my novitiates. If I should die tomorrow, he will likely succeed me." She had heard Lexa talk about her death before, but it still took her by surprise. The way Lexa said it, as if her death would mean nothing. As if it was just an event to be brushed over. Clarke couldn't help opening her mouth in shock.

"Clarke worries about our people." Lexa smirked at her, making Clarke frown at the expression. "Tell her what will happen to them when you become Heda, Aden."

"If I become Heda, I pledge my loyalty to the thirteenth clan." The boy recited, only briefly looking at Clarke before turning back to stare straight ahead with his head tilted high.

"Thank you. Now go join the others." She instructed and Aden bowed his head to them both before leaving. "See? Nothing to worry about." Lexa smiled over her shoulder whilst walking back to her throne.

"I'm sorry if I'm worried the fate of my people lies in the hands of a child." Clarke declared, her mind still trying to unravel exactly what had just happened.

"Then you worry for nothing." Lexa announce. Clarke followed after her until the woman turned around. "Indra's army is protecting Arkadia as we speak. Anya will see to it that you are returned to your people safely. Aden will ensure your future is safe. Your people and your future are protected, as I vowed they would be."

"This is not just about my people. This coalition needs you, Lexa. Roan isn't going to just let you kill him." Clarke spluttered, not understanding why Lexa couldn't see that the coalition needed her. The Skaikru needed her. She needed-

"And you think I'll let him just kill me?" Lexa asked. Clarke could have sworn she saw the woman's eyes roll slightly. "Clarke, if tomorrow is the day my spirit chooses its successor, then you need to accept that."

Clarke bristled. She wouldn't accept that. She wouldn't accept that there was nothing she could do to stop the fight from happening. She had faced tougher odds in the past and won. She could win this too.

"Like hell I do." Clarke almost snarled, glaring at Lexa before she turned to leave the room. She needed to see Roan. If Lexa wasn't going to budge, then he was her next best shot.

Polis was as incredible from the ground as it looked from the tower.

Trees sprung up from everywhere. The snaking cracks on the hard pavement all gave way to their twisting roots.

Compared to the tower itself, the buildings around her felt small, but each one held more character than Clarke could have ever imagined. There were large birds running freely in fenced off plots of land and the blonde couldn't help pausing to watch them as a young child sat happily throwing pieces of grain for them to eat.

There was life everywhere.

Clarke knew that now she had started to discover the city of Polis, she wouldn't be able to stop. Lexa was right. Polis truly was changing her opinion of the Grounders.

Eventually, the trees around her gave way to the opening of the market she had spotted from the balcony of the tower. Roan was here somewhere. At least that's what the guard had told her. Keeping her head ducked under her hood, Clarke scoured the area for the Prince.

From across the crowd, Clarke spotted Pheme waving at her and she quickly returned the gesture. It was only when she started focusing on the faces that she realised how many of them she recognised. Amongst the strangers were a healthy mix of guards and hand maidens from the tower. A part of Clarke started wondered exactly how many people the tower actually employed.

It was the subtle clashing of metal that finally alerted her of the Prince's position, and Clarke slowly made her way around the back of the market until she found where he was training.

Roan's movements were solid, his stance grounded. Every blow of his blunted sword rattled against the spears of the guards. Every strike making them step backwards and in turn giving him more time to manoeuvre. Every thrust between their weakening defences landed it's mark.

It didn't take long until each guard fell, their weapons laying useless on the floor besides them.

"Were you hoping to see someone die," Roan's voice gravelled before he was suddenly pivoting, his sword at her throat. "Wanheda."

Clarke didn't finch, she knew Roan's blade wouldn't touch her. Slowly she pulled down her hood. "I was hoping to speak to the King of Azgeda."

"There is no King of Azgeda."

"Not yet." Roan rolled his eyes at her, his arm finally dropping back down to his side. "I know you just want to go home."

"When I win today, I will." Roan said, his sword twirling absentmindedly in his hand.

"For how long? How long until your mother finds another reason to kill you, or to have you banished again? No one can banish a King out of his kingdom." Clarke tried to entice.

She knew she was getting through to him when he stopped spinning his sword to look at her properly.

"And how do you propose I become King? My mother is alive and well, as I'm sure you've noticed." Roan replied pointedly.

"Then kill her."

The words fell from her lips too easily. Death was once again her go to reaction. If something was failing, if it wasn't panning out the way she wanted, the first thing she would think of was killing the problem away.

When Anya had tried to bring her to Polis, Clarke's reaction hadn't been to just incapacitate the woman. It had been to kill her. When Lexa was pushing her to join the coalition, she had tried to kill her. And now the Ice Queen was threatening the peace she was craving? All Clarke could think of was killing her.

Her heart ached. She truly was the Wanheda.

"I can't." Roan replied, making Clarke look up at him in shock. He wanted to be King, the blonde was sure of it. "My people would never take me back."

"We can't let your mother win."

"No," He agreed and Clarke backed away slightly when she saw the knowing look on his face. "Which is why you're going to do it. You are the Commander of Death after all." He smirked. "Under your pillow, you'll find a gift. Maybe you should think about seeing my mother for breakfast tomorrow."

It was just one more. Just one more death. She could kill one more person, then that was it, her people would have peace and she wouldn't have to do it again.

Swallowing back the bile that had risen in her throat, Clarke nodded firmly. "Fine."

"Now run along Wanheda," He said, kicking one of the spears towards the hand of the most awake guard. "I have a duel to prepare for."

Roan had been telling the truth. When Clarke had finished her exploration of the city and returned to her room there was a small vial of black liquid hidden under her pillow.

The guards that Roan had bought were apparently still loyal to him, and Clarke couldn't help feeling nervous that the Ice Nation had a small faction of supporters within the walls of the tower willing to follow his instructions.

"I hear you were talking to the Prince earlier." Anya said from across the table. The woman had invited Clarke to her room to eat their evening meal together earlier that day. Clarke had gladly accepted. Since leaving the solitude of her room, she had found herself craving the company of others.

Lifting her gaze from the plate of meat in front of her, Clarke knew she looked surprised at Anya's revelation. "Rumour spreads quickly in Polis." The other woman continued.

"I was trying to help Lex-"

Stabbing her knife into her food, Anya glared at her. "Let her handle this, Clarke."

"The safety of my people lies in the hand of a woman who doesn't seem to think her death matters." Clarke  hissed, remembering her conversation with the Commander and Aden.

"Of course it doesn't." Clarke's eyes widened at the other woman's confession. "When Lexa dies another Commander will take her place, your people will continue to be protected and life here will continue." Anya said with a tone that Clarke could only describe as bored.

"How can you say that?" She asked with astonishment.

"There's a difference between wanting her to die and accepting that she might." Anya replied simply, chewing into another piece of meat. "Death is not the end, it's just another part of our journey."

"And you would be okay with that? With Lexa dying tomorrow?" Clarke challenged. She didn't understand how the Grounders just didn't seem to care about death. They acted as if it wasn't the last time they would get to see someone, as if it was just another everyday occurrence that happened in their lives.

"She won't die tomorrow-"

"Have you not seen Roan fight? He-"

"I trained her, Sky girl." Anya spat. "She will not die tomorrow. Now eat, whatever happens tomorrow will be a long day."

Silently, Clarke started to chew at her food again.

Anya sighed loudly, her knife clattering against her plate. "Our cultures are different, Clarke. What is it your own people says when someone dies? The words you recite to them?"

"In peace, may you leave this shore." Clarke began, and an overwhelming feeling of sorrow started to flutter in her chest. "In love, may you find the next. Safe passage on your travels, until our final journey to the ground. May we meet again."

Anya looked at her thoughtfully. "Yu gonplei ste odon." She muttered before smiling sadly. "Do you not think it odd that your prayer talks of hope, yet it is my people that truly believe death is not the end?"

It hadn't taken Clarke long to find out where and when the Ice Queen would be eating her morning meal. When Pheme had come to help her with her braids that morning, she had happily divulged the information to her.

The lower tower was darker than the brightly lit upper floors. The walls were a skulking hue of grey compared to the bright walls of the corridors into the throne room.

As she approached, Clarke could see the surprise on the guard's faces at seeing her. "I'm here to see the Queen." She said, her back straight and head held high.

"Of course, Wanheda." They said in unison, and they both clumsily reached for the hands on the door to let her in.

"Wanheda to see you, Queen Nia." One of the guards announced.

Nia looked up from the food that was being served in front of her.

There was a girl besides her, not much taller than Clarke, with dark hair framing her face. Like the rest of the Ice Nation, decorative scars littered her face.

Shooing the girl away from her, Nia took an over exaggerated drink from her cup and Clarke wondered if all political prisoners brought their own hand maidens with them. "To what do I owe the pleasure?"

Trying to look as confident as possible Clarke stalked around the table, casually rolling an apple across the hard wood. "What if I changed my vote?"

Lifting the fruit Clarke took a bite, finally making eye contact with the Queen. "Now you're thinking like a leader of your people." Nia smiled almost gleefully.

Dropping the apple back onto the table, Clarke walked closer. "I would need some assurances first."

"Skaikru will be safe." Nia quickly assured, straightening up in her chair.

"And me?"

"My quarrel is with Lexa, not you." She tried to affirm, but Clarke wasn't fooled. Betrayal ran deep in the Ice Nation, and Clarke knew the second Lexa took her dying breath the legendary Wanheda would be back at the top of Nia's “to kill” list. "Once she's gone, I won't need the power of Wanheda."

"Okay." Clarke agreed easily.

"Okay? You don't want vengeance for the dead at Mount Weather?" Suspicion swirled in the woman's eyes.

Clarke smirked to try and dispel Nia's worry. "My priority is with the living, not the dead."

Reaching forwards, Clarke pulled the dagger from the table. The design was similar to the one Roan had given her. Without hesitation, she dragged the blade across the sensitive skin of her hand, grimacing as her palm split open.

"We bind ourselves in blood." Clarke said in clear Trigedasleng before she wiped the blade across the sleeve of her shirt.

The sleeve she had soaked in the poison Roan had left for her.

"I see you've learned our oath." Nia noted, staring at Clarke's hand as the blood started to drip around her fist.

Using the full force of her arm, Clarke stabbed the knife back into the table. "Do you accept?" She asked.

Standing, Nia pulled the knife free again and help out her hand. "We bind ourselves in blood."

The blade was close, practically upon Nia's hand when the girl behind Clarke cried out for the Queen to wait. Before Clarke could even realise her plan had just completely fallen apart, she found her body slammed painfully onto the table, the air pushed out of her lungs at the force of it.

Desperately, Clarke tried to blink back the little dots of black that had started to cloud her vision. The woman that had been serving Nia lifted the blonde's poisoned sleeve to her face and inhaled deeply.

"Poison." She confirmed to Nia.

Fear jolted straight through her. Clarke wouldn't let it show though. Gritting her teeth, she stared up at them both defiantly.

"We could've been allies, Wanheda." Nia growled at her. "Instead, I declare you and your people enemies of Azgeda."

Picking up a cloth from the table, Nia wiped the blade clean and Clarke couldn't help the subtle shiver her body gave. This was it. This was the end of Clarke kom Skaikru-

"Ontari, hold out your hand." The Ice Queen suddenly demanded, and Clarke watched as the woman pining her down winced when Nia cut the blade across her palm. "I'm letting you live for now to send a message to Lexa."

Clarke gasped at the blood pooling through Ontari's fist. Even in the barely lit room, she could see how unnaturally dark it was. How black it was.

Nia shifted Ontari's hand until the blood was dripping straight onto her. Every drop made her stomach roll and fruitlessly, Clarke tried to shift her head away.

"I have my own Natblida and she will be the next Commander." Nia snarled down at her.

Ducking her head, Clarke walked towards the throne room with her hood up. As much as she wanted to go back to her room and wash the blood from her face, she knew she had to deliver Nia's twisted message.

"Clarke?" Anya's voice called from behind her, but Clarke kept walking, speeding up slightly to try and outpace the woman. A hand grabbed onto her arm, and Clarke couldn't stop her body from spinning under Anya's strength.

"Clarke?!" Anya's hands were on her face instantly, her eyes searching every patch of skin. "Are you hurt?"

"No, no, I'm fine." Moving back Clarke dropped the hood from the head, so Anya could look at her properly.

The woman's face turned positively thunderous. Anya quickly pulled her hood back over her head. "Come with me." She ordered, grabbing onto Clarke's arm again.

As they approached the throne rooms doors, Anya pushed her head down, further shielding Clarke's face. The doors swung open wildly, the glass shuddering in its frame.

"Everybody out." Anya's voice demanded. "Now."

Feet shuffled past her, and Clarke could hear the curious murmur of voices from the hallway as whoever had been the in the room filed out.

"What is the meaning of this?" Titus's voice boomed.

In an instant, Clarke her face uncovered as Anya ripped the hood off her head.

"Clarke?" Lexa was in front of her before Clarke even had the chance to fully raise her head. The woman kept her hands clenched at her side, but her worried green eyes studied Clarke's face almost frantically. "What happened? Who did this?"

"Nia- I went to see Nia, there was a girl with her, she cut her hand and did this." Clarke quickly explained, having to look away from Lexa's searching eyes.

"She knew what she was doing when she put the blood of a nightblood on her." Anya growled from next to her. "She knew the disrespect that would cause."

"A Commander from the Ice Nation? Now all of Nia's provocations make sense, and we played right into it." Titus muttered with defeat. Clarke had to stop herself from flinching when his thumb brushed over the drying blood. "She knew you would accept her challenge."

"I've never seen blood that colour before." Clarke said, looking down at the smears of black that were still on her hand.

"It goes back to the first Commander." Lexa explained. "When a nightblood child is found, they're brought here to be trained, or supposed to be."

Nightblood. Like a lot of the Grounders language it was literal. The blood was black like the night. They were Nightbloods. She would have time to think about it later, at least Clarke hoped she would, because medically she didn't know how it was even possible.

Titus looked towards Lexa with pleading eyes. "You legacy is no longer secure. There is still time to choose a champion."

"You know she can't do that." Anya replied for her and Clarke watched horrified as Lexa nodded her head in agreement.

"Heda-" Titus went to argue, but Lexa was already walking away from them all.

"Leave us! Both of you!"

Both Titus and Anya looked to Clarke, and she knew it was for entirely different reasons. She couldn't do as Anya wished though, she couldn't just let Lexa fight.

Both of them ducked out of the room, the doors slowly slipping shut behind them.

"Titus is right. You're giving her exactly what she wants." Clarke argued. She was desperate for her mind to think of something, anything to stop the fight.

She wasn't prepared for Lexa's angry snarl when she swivelled back around to face her.

"Only if I lose." The woman seethed. Shaking her head lightly, Lexa took what Clarke thought might have been a calming breath. "I know you're just trying to help, Clarke, but there's nothing you can do here."

"I can't just let Roan kill you." She protested vehemently. Her people needed Lexa, and with the Ice Queen onto her plan to overthrow her, Clarke knew the Skaikru wouldn't be safe any more.

"If that is to be my fate, you must." Lexa repeat and it hit Clarke again that Lexa was so willing to accept her own death. "You're driven to fix everything for everyone, but you can't fix this. I have to do this on my own, and you have to let me."

"I won't just sit there and watch you die." Clarke cried out desperately.

Lexa stared at her, and Clarke couldn't help staring back. She had revealed too much. She had opened up too much. It didn't matter how many times she tried to tell herself the woman in front of her didn't matter, that she was just a necessity in her life to keep her people safe. The truth was despite everything, it wasn't just the Commander, Clarke was scared of losing.

It was Lexa.

The door clicked open behind them.

Clarke shook her head away from Lexa's stare, her heart pounding in her chest with an emotion she didn't want to put a name to.

"Heda? It's time." Titus informed them, his voice shaking with obvious nerves.

"Then this is goodbye." Lexa said quietly, and Clarke could feel the tears threatening to pool in her eyes. "For now."

Gasping lightly, Clark tried to remind herself to breathe when the woman marched straight past her. Clarke's heart clenched painfully. The walls of the throne room seemed to be getting closer and closer as she watched Lexa disappear from her sight.

She was going to die and there was nothing Clarke could do.

"Clarke?" Anya's voice whispered from next to her.

"I'm fine" She spat out.

"No. You're not. Come with me."

Anya covered her head with her hood again. Clarke didn't resist, she just let woman dictate her movements. She barely even took in the changing scenery as Anya directed her through the corridors.

Clarke wasn't sure how much time had passed, but eventually she started to register what was happening around her.

They were Anya's room again. During her haze, Anya had sat her on the bed, and was cleaning the blood off her face, whilst her other hand gently tapped at the back of the blonde's clenched fist. The touch was grounding, and Clarke focused on it as her mind slowly unravelled from the knot it had wound itself into.

Anya gently dragged the cloth across her skin making the diluted blood dripped down her face.

"When I was with Yein-" Clarke started, blinking heavily when Anya wiped her forehead again. "She told me the previous Commander used to wear the blood of the nightblood's as his war paint."

"Yes." Anya replied whilst she wiped under Clarke's eye. "Lexa was his favourite for a while." Dipping the rag back into the water, Anya stared at her for a moment. "He wasn't like her." Clarke didn't speak, choosing to watch the other woman as she rung out the cloth again. "Her biggest fear was that she would turn into him, that one day she would wake up and become him. It's why her first act as Commander was to instil a vote of no confidence. She never wanted that to happen again."

Anya handed Clarke the dry towel at her side. Gently, the blonde patted her face on it. It was as the she pulled away that she heard the crowd roar outside.

"You should go. Lexa will be fighting soon." Clarke whispered.


Snapping her head up in surprise, Clarke tried to search the other woman's face for any hint of emotion. "What do you mean 'no'?"

"She asked me to stay with you." Anya replied simply.


"If she dies I'll need to get you out the city, there's no telling what Nia will do." She calmly explained before standing up to take the bowl of soiled water away.

Clarke's chest hurt. If Lexa died, she would be alone. There would be no one there to watch her. No one for her to look to in her final moments. She would die in a crowd of people. All alone.

Her decision was already made by the time Anya came back into the room.

"I'm going." She blurted out, already pulling her hood back over her head.

There wasn't any shock on Anya's face, and Clarke suspected that she knew all along they would be going to the fight.

The lift descended the tower far too slowly for Clarke's liking.

"Patience. We'll be there before it starts." Anya implored, her eyes still watching each floor pass them by through the metal grating.

As if heeding her prayers the cage finally jolted to a halt, and Clarke pushed past Anya as she opened the gate for them. "Do you even know where you're going?"

"The same place Roan was training." Clarke replied, quickly flipping her hood up.

She started to jog the same path she had taken the previous day. The need to get to Lexa before the fight started was overwhelming. Clarke couldn't, she wouldn't, let her thoughts linger on that fact for too long.

She didn't know where Anya was, if she was just behind her or still lingering in the tower, but it didn't matter. Her pace increased, her legs moving faster until she broke out into a sprint.

It felt so much further than the day before. The beauty of the city suddenly an obstacle for her to weave through as quickly as possible.

Clarke stumbled to halt when she found the make shift battleground.

The crowd was already six people deep and without another moment of hesitation, Clarke pushed past them. She didn't care about the Trigedasleng curses that were thrown at her as she squirmed her way through. It was luck, or perhaps fate that when the crowd broke it was Lexa standing in front of her.

The Commander had been about the grab her sword, but her hand froze as her eyes stared at Clarke.

"I'm glad you came." Lexa muttered with the smallest of smiles.

"Me too." Clarke replied honestly.

Their eyes remained locked for a few moments longer, and Clarke knew whatever happened she wouldn't regret this. She wouldn't regret being here.

Looking away from her, the Commander pulled the sword from the sheath the guard was holding and the crowd roared with affection for her. Cries of "Heda" came from all around Clarke, and her heart swelled that despite the Ice Queen's attempt to overthrow her, Lexa's people were still here to support her.

The feeling didn't last long.

Clarke's eyes widened when Roan suddenly appeared behind Lexa, his sword raised and ready to slash down onto the Commander's back. In the blink of an eye. the Commander was ducking under the arch of his arm though, her own sword slashing at his unprotected flank as she spun away.

The fight had begun.

They circled each other a moment before the Commander let out a cry and began her assault. Strike after strike reigned down on Roan, his own sword the only thing protecting him from her relentless assault.

Clarke couldn't help seeing the beauty in the way Lexa fought. Her flowing, twisting movements a stark contradiction to Roan's heavy set stance.

Their swords came together, the clash of metal ringing out across the square, and Clarke dug her nails into her palms when Roan started to take the advantage. Pushing his arm onto his own sword, Clarke watched in horror as the Commander's knees buckled under the weight.

He was going to overwhelm her, he was going to win when the fight had only just begun.

In the next moment one of the Commander's hands were shooting out to grab onto his blade. Clarke let out a gasp at the sight of black blood visibly drip from her hand. It was the advantage the brunette needed though because in the next instant the hilt of her blade was slamming into Roan's face.

The break in movement didn't last long, and Roan was quickly hammering at Lexa again until his foot lodged squarely in the back of her leg, forcing her onto the floor.

Clarke's nails bit at her palm again. Her heart was thundering in her chest, almost drowning out the sound of the crowd around her.

Roan beat down the Commander's attempt to defend herself. The sword in her hand was swiftly kicked away from her too, but before Clarke could even begin to worry, the Commander was driving her elbow into Roan's knee.


Even from the side lines, Clarke heard the grunt of pain from the the Prince as he was forced onto his own knees. She also heard the sickening crack of the Commander driving her knee straight into his face.

Unseen to her, the Commander had ripped the sword from Roan's grip and with her eyes still on the man she stepped backwards to pick up her own discarded sword. The crowd jeered when the weaponless Roan slammed his fist into the side of a guards face, stunning him long enough to take his spear.

The fight began anew, and Clarke watched completely transfixed as the Commander once again struck out against Roan. Both her blades twisted around her whist she spun, crossing and uncrossing in a hammering series of blows. Roan desperately tried to knock back every strike, barely managing to hit each one.

It wasn't to last though.

Clarke could almost feel the blood pumping through her veins with the strength that her heart was pounding. The Commander's left sword was the first to go, a small arch of black following the arch of the spear that slashed across her arm. The right sword was flying from her hands a second later.

Before it had even finished clattering to the ground, Roan was raising his foot.

It felt like time had stopped. The crowd around her was crying for the Heda, but Clarke could barely hear them over the sickening thud of Roan's boot kicking Lexa squarely in the chest.

She didn't stand a chance. The force of the blow had the Commander sprawling out on the floor. Clarke could see the rapid rise and fall of her chest. Her ribs would be aching, possibly broken, and with the location of the hit, her sternum could have been broken.

Roan approached her, and Clarke almost cried out, almost begged him not to do it. The Commander didn't move though, her eyes merely watching the man as he stood over her and raised his spear.

He thrust the spear at her neck.

Instead of the sick sound of flesh being torn apart, Clarke heard the sharp twang of steel colliding with the hard bricked floor. At the last moment, the Commander had rolled from underneath him. Relief sparked through her when the woman's foot once again struck Roan's knee, sending the man flying onto his back.

It didn't take long for Roan to scramble back to his feet, the spear still held tight in his hand. Once again, his attack began anew.

Clarke held her breath, watching Lexa duck and swerve around the point of his spear. Roan was relentless in his attack, his whole body shuddering with each blow he sent the Commander's way.

The fight turned quickly, the crowd roaring their Heda's name once more.

In the blink of an eye, the Commander grabbed onto the weapon, striking Roan's hands to force him to let it go.

This time it was Roan on the retreat as he tried to dodge the spear the Commander was expertly wielding against him. The movements looked almost wild, the spear spinning around her whole body before striking Roan. Each strike was calculated though, and in a second the the butt of the spear was colliding painfully with the Prince's face.

Blood exploded from Roan's nose as his body crumpled onto the grounder. Clarke watched him fall onto his back again, blood splattering from between his teeth.

It was over.

Lexa twirled the spear in her hand, pointing the blade on the end at Roan's throat.

"Get up!" The Ice Queen demanded in Trigedasleng, her neck pulling taught. "If you die, you don't die a prince, you die a coward!"

Without warning, Lexa drew back from the man, the spear running almost parallel to her body as she launched it at Nia.

Nia was prepared though. Before the spear had even fully left Lexa's hand, the Queen of Azgeda was grabbing onto the shirt of the Broad Leaf ambassador. He didn't make a noise.

He didn't have the chance to.

A woman to the left of Clarke screamed, and the blonde had to cover her mouth as Uzac fell to the floor, the spear firmly lodged in his back.

"You dare try to kill me!" Nia raged, her eyes blazing at the Commander. Clarke felt her stomach roll at the sound of her pulling the spear from Uzac's back. "You dare try to kill the Queen of Azgeda!"

Nia jumped down from the stage, the spear still held firm in her hand as she stalked towards the Commander. A flash of metal on the stage caught Clarke's attention, and she looked up in time to see Anya's hand wrapped around Ontari's throat, her dagger pointing at the young girl's neck.

"Your challenge has failed, Nia." Clarke heard the Commander growl to the woman in front of her.

"I am a Queen-"

"No, you're not." Stepping around her, the Commander raised her voice to address the crowd. "The Ice Nation has a new ruler! Roan of Azgeda, I pronounce you King!"

Roan merely rolled onto his side and wiped the back of his hand across his bloody mouth.

"You have no authority-" Nia tried to argue, her eyes squinting dangerously.

Spinning around, the Commandeer snarled. "I have every authority, or do you wish to challenge me yourself?"

With a feral cry, Nia raised the spear in her hand, ready to strike it down onto the woman who had just humiliated her. The Commander didn't move though, her head rising confidently. Clarke felt her foot jerk forwards, ready to run to Lexa's side. Ready to push her out of the way of Nia's killing blow.

It never came though.

Without warning, Nia's weapon was flying out of her hand, and Clarke had to dart out the way as it clattered noisily across the floor towards her. With the danger of the spear out the way, Clarke whipped her head back up.

There was an arm wrapping around Nia's neck and a blade pressing threateningly into the woman's throat. Clarke couldn't quite see who it was from her position, but she could just make out the wild dark hair of a woman standing behind the Ice Queen.

"Hello, Heda." The woman greeted and Clarke could see a rare full smile pulling across Lexa's face.

"Welcome home, Luna."

Chapter Text

 “She's the leader of the Boat People?” Clarke asked, her eyes drilling into the back of Luna's head as Anya walked beside her.

They were following the Commander back towards the tower, their pace fast. After the fight, the beaten Queen of Azgeda had been restrained by the tower guards. Clarke doubted where she was being taken would be anything like the room she had been kept in before.

“Yes. She was one of the nightbloods who grew up with Lexa.” Anya revealed.

Clarke creased her brow in confusion. “I thought Lexa killed all of them at her Conclave?”

“She did.” A look of disgust flashed across Anya's face. “Luna ran away before it was over. She was a coward.”

The shadow of the tower loomed over them once more, and the blonde could just about hear the Commander ordering the guards at the base to take them straight to the top floor.

"I'm sorry, Lexa. I rode as hard as I could, but the fight had already started." Luna whispered to Lexa whilst they waited for the cage to lower.

Nodding her head, Lexa smiled towards the woman. "Thank you for coming, Luna. It has been too long."

Silently, all four of them stepped into the cage together. As Clarke passed Lexa, she could smell the soft twang of iron from her injuries. The blonde knew Lexa should be going to her healers, even if was only to have the cut on her hand dressed.

Standing closer than necessary, Clarke tried to listen to the injured woman's breathing. There was no wet crackling, no sign of any wheezing, and Clarke felt some of the tension she'd been carrying around since the fight fall away from her. Roan's boot hadn't damaged Lexa's lungs, at least, not enough for their to be any audible response.

Stepping backwards, Clarke could see Anya regarded her curiously for a moment.

The lift jolted to a stop and instantly Lexa gripped herself around her middle. Clarke looked at her in concern again. She knew there was still a strong chance Lexa was hiding broken ribs under her shirt.

It was Luna that threw up the grating for them, and Clarke followed in silence once again as they walked towards the throne room.

The moment the heavy doors closed behind them, Luna's arms wrapped around Lexa. Clarke felt her mouth drop open at the open display of affection. It barely lasted second, as soon as Luna's arms gripped around her Lexa was grunting in pain.

“You are injured?” Luna asked and Clarke tensed when she took Lexa's hand in her own to study the cut that was slashed across it. “You should go to your healers-”

“I'm fine.” Lexa replied, clenching her still bloody fist away from Luna's grasp.

“Luna's right, Lexa,” Clarke agreed, walking towards the pair of them. “Your wounds need to be treated.”

“I'm fine.”

“I don't believe we've met.” Luna's melodic voice slowly said as she held her hand out. “My name is Luna kom Floukru, leader of the Boat People.”

“Clarke.” Swallowing, she stared into the woman's soft brown eyes and lifted her hand to meet hers. “You might know me as Wanheda.”

Just before their hands could meet, Luna's hand flinched away, the warmth from her eyes replaced with an icy glare. Without another word, Luna turned from her to face Lexa.

“What are you planning to do with Nia?” Luna asked her, watching as Lexa slowly lower herself onto the throne.

“In the morning she will be executed for the crimes she has committed against the coalition.” Nodding her head towards Clarke, Lexa continued. “Against the Skaikru.”

Luna scoffed, shaking her head. “And I thought things had changed here.”

“Things have changed.” Lexa growled. “Nia must pay for what she's done.”

With her head tilting, Luna approached the throne, her voice dropping back to a gentle murmur. “But with her life?” She questioned.

Lexa tilted up her chin. “Yes.”

All life is precious.” Luna replied.

Anya scoffed loudly.

“Tell that to the 49 members of Skaikru Nia had killed. Wanheda's people deserve justice.” Lexa argued whilst her fingers massaging the side of her head.

“Death isn't justice.” Pivoting around to face Clarke, Luna stepped back towards her. “Is this what you really want? More people killed in your name, Wanheda?” Continuing her approach, Luna's dark eyes squinted at her. “Is this what you want your legacy to be? Peace by murder?”

“This isn't murder.” Clarke rebuked, desperate to defend herself. “This is justice.”

“And why should you decide who lives and who dies?” The Boat People's leader snapped back. “What gives you the right?”

Clarke didn't know what to say. She had to look away from the woman as she tried to desperately come up with an answer.

“Death is necessary, Luna. You know that.” Lexa muttered darkly for her, her lip curling in anger or pain, Clarke wasn't sure.

“It doesn't work.” Luna implored through clenched teeth. With her fists clenched she spun back to face Lexa. “They kill someone, you kill someone back, they get their revenge by killing someone else. It doesn't stop, it just escalates until you all end up dead!”

Clarke tried to straighten out her thoughts because before coming into the throne room, she had been set on executing Nia. She wanted the Ice Queen to pay for what she had done.

But what gave her the right to decide someone's life should be taken away?

The Grounders had named her Wanheda. Most of the guards treated her as if one glare from her could kill them. Was that what she really wanted? Did she really want her legacy to be the woman who killed everyone who stood in her way? Who dared to defy her?

You're in charge now, so you decide who is disposable? You'd have fit right in on the council.”

Octavia had told Clarke that, right after she had let the bomb drop on Ton DC.

In the eyes of the Ark's council, if someone did something wrong they were floated. Her dad had done something wrong, and no matter how noble his reasons were, he was still floated. The same thing would have happened to her. Clarke knew no matter what her mothers position on the council was, she would have been killed if she hadn't been sent to the ground.

Did she really want to carry on being Wanheda in name and nature?

“There is another way.” Luna said, turning to face Clarke directly again. “One of our floating islands. I want to use it as a prison. A place to hold the worst of our people. The ones who can't be changed.”

Blood must have blood. That is the way of our people.” Titus's voice suddenly boomed from behind her. At some point during Luna's speech, the man had snuck into the room. “Heda, you cannot entertain this idea.”

“And if I was?” Lexa asked. When Clarke looked up at her, she realised the woman had been watching her.

“Heda...” Titus began, his head shaking.

“Our people act as if war and death is easier than peace. As if life is something we can just take away.” Lexa cut over him.

“Queen Nia cannot be allowed to live.” Titus continued. “The people will think you weak-”

“The people will do as I say!” Lexa suddenly shouted, and Clarke flinched with her every word as she continued her tirade at the man. “You will do as I say! I am the Commander. I am Heda. If I say we have peace without death, we will have peace with death. Is that clear!?”

“Yes, Heda, I meant no offence-” He quickly tried to defend himself, his head ducking down in respect.

Lexa was lifting her hand to silence him before he could continue. With a grimace, she stood from the throne. There was a slight limp to her gait as she brushed aside the curtains that hung across the doorways at the back of the room and disappeared onto the balcony.

Clarke wasn't sure there was a force in the world strong enough to stop her from following the woman.

“Let her go Titus.” Anya ordered, shushing the man before he could tell her to stop.

Clarke stood in the curtain for a moment, letting the breeze gently ruffle the fabric across her skin whilst she watched Lexa. Her shoulders were relaxed, but Clarke could just about see the slight grind of her jaw.

The Commander was alive. Lexa was alive.

With everything that had happened in the past hour, Clarke hadn't quite comprehended it until then. It shouldn't have made her heart shudder the way it did. Or make such a comforting warmth bloom in her chest. But it did.

Finally stepping away from the curtain, Clarke moved to stand next to Lexa. The sun was still beating down, the sky still clear and blue. From the ground, the blonde could still hear the sound of crowds that had gathered to watch the fight. From behind her, she could hear the muffled argument that had started to rage between Luna and Titus.

“Hi.” Clarke greeted, and Lexa's eyes opened.

Briefly, Lexa tucked her head to look at her before turning her attention back to the city. “Are you okay?” Lexa asked, her voice soft.

“I'm not the one that was just in a fight to the death.”

A smile twitched at Lexa's mouth, before her jaw tensed again. “Is this what you want? To send Nia away?”

Clarke didn't answer right away. Instead she let out a heavy breath and let her thoughts play over everything Luna had told them again.

“I don't want to feel this way any more.” Clarke confessed, her blunt fingernails digging painfully into the cut across her palm. “I don't want to... To want to kill people.”


“What about you? What do you want, Lexa?”

“I want her to suffer for what she did. To me, to Anya, to my people.” Lexa snarled, her hands gripping onto the rough wall in front of her. Clarke almost reached out, her own hand twitching at her side to cover the woman's standing next her.

“But this isn't for us.”


“It's for your-” Clarke shook her head, quickly correcting herself. “For our people.”

“Jus drein jus daun.” Lexa said quietly, her eyes looking distant. “It has always been our way.”

“But you don't like it.” There were images flashing across her mind. Images of Lexa pressing her sword into Gustus's chest. She sill remembered the look in Lexa's eyes, the wet sheen of tears, and the slight quiver of her lip as she pierced his heart.

“No.” The brunette finally replied.

“Maybe what Luna said was right.” Clarke ventured. Lexa looked at her curiously. “It takes one person to end the cycle of violence, to show that we can have peace without having to kill our way to it. Someone has to take the first step. Maybe it should be you.”

Lexa didn't reply, but the subtle grind of her jaw was enough to tell Clarke that she was thinking about it. She was considering it.

“You have Luna on your side. Roan will want to pay back his debt to you as soon as he can. He'll back you on this if you ask. And-” Swallowing Clarke gripped her nails into her palm again. “And you'll have Wanheda as well. I'll back you on this, Lexa”

The other woman's jaw continued to grind as she looked away from Clarke again. The argument behind them was getting louder. Clarke could just make out the sound of Anya's voice joining in.

“It will have to be put to a vote.” Lexa announced abruptly. “Majority rule.”

“Do you think your people will vote for it?”

“Azgeda, Trikru, Skaikru and Floukru are guaranteed.” Lexa listed, and Clarke nodded along because she didn't doubt she could convince her mother to go along with this plan. “The council of Delphi hasn't voted for death within their clan for many years. The Chief of the Blue Cliffs and the elected members of the Sankru are almost certain to say yes.”

“And the others?” Clarke asked hopefully.

Lexa just shook her head, turning around to start walking back towards the throne room. “I cannot be certain.”

“Enough!” The Commander called as soon as she was on the other side. Clarke didn't follow her though, but she could hear the woman already explaining what was going to happen.

Taking a deep breath, Clarke looked out over the city again and an uncontrollable smile burst onto her face. They were going to have peace and there would be no war or killing to get it.

Pulling her robe tighter around herself, Clarke stared out at the stars.

By the time she had returned to the throne room, Anya had been the only one left inside. The woman had barely greeted her, and Clarke knew she was angry at her. She would have wanted revenge on Nia for the death of her parents. For the death of her people. For her challenge to Lexa.

Clarke had taken that from her.

She wondered if Anya would be angry at Lexa too, or if she would blame Clarke the way she was sure Titus would.

A knock at the door pulled the blonde from her thoughts.

Clarke creased her brow. It was late and the only person who would visit her at this time was Anya, but after escorting her to her room the woman had avoided her for the rest of the day.

Shivering as her feet padded across the cold stone floor, Clarke pulled the door open. Her heart practically stopped in her chest and she had to remind herself to breathe.

It was Lexa. But it was Lexa as Clarke had never seen her before.

Her braids were gone, her long hair loose and wavy as it hung over her shoulder. Gone was her armour, and gone was her usual confident stance. A dress unlike any other Clarke had seen hung off her body, the thin delicate straps amplifying the subtle curves of her collar bone and shoulders.

She looked-

Clarke quickly shut down the thought. “Is everything okay?” She asked, somehow managing to keep the husk out of her voice.

Lexa nodded. “Yes. I wanted... I wanted to say thank you.”

It wasn't the answer Clarke was expecting, and she stepped back to open the door wider. “Come in.”

As Lexa walked past her, Clarke shot her hand out to grab onto her injured hand. The woman's dark blood had already started to seep through the dressing that had been wrapped around it. Based on the off centre knot, she wondered if Lexa had applied it herself.

“Sit down. Let me change that for you.” Clarke gently ordered.

There was a stash of clean cloths in the wardrobe, and Clarke quickly pulled one out before sitting opposite Lexa on the small padded foot stool that was in front of the chair.

They sat in silence as Clarke unwrapped the existing bandage and inspected the cut underneath. The gash across Lexa's palm was deepest. Clarke could see the remains of the poultice her healers must have applied. She checked the cut over her fingers next, gently bending them to make sure nothing had been damaged underneath.

She wasn't satisfied, she wanted to clean the wound completely, and maybe even attempt to stitch the widest part of the cut back together, but she knew Lexa would never let her. Instead she ripped a strip off of the cloth and gently redressed her hand. It was when she tied off the make shift bandage that Lexa grabbed onto her own hand.

“Your hand.” She muttered, her voice soft. Gently, Lexa turned the palm up to face her.

“I-” Ducking her head in embarrassment, Clarke looked down at where Lexa's thumb was rubbing across her palm. “When I went to see Nia... I tried to, I tried to poison her...”

To Clarke's surprise a small smile pulled at the corner of Lexa's lips. “You wouldn't be the first to try.” Picking up the cloth from Clarke's lap, Lexa ripped at the fabric. “Thank you for backing me before the fight.”

“I was just doing what was right for my people.” Clarke replied without thinking. When she looked up her heart ached at the sad look in Lexa's eyes before they darted away. She hadn't realised that the other woman had been holding her hand in her own until that moment when she let it go.

Lexa started to delicately wrap her hand.

“That girl that was with Nia, Ontari, what will happen to her?” Clarke asked to try and distract herself from the feeling.

“She'll join the others here in Polis.” Lexa replied softly, and the blonde had to stop herself from shivering as her fingers dragged across the back of her wrist. “She's angry. Unpredictable. Like me at my worst.” Clarke creased her brow at her confession. “Hopefully time away from Nia will heal her.”

“What about the ambassadors? They betrayed you, Lexa.” The fabric tightened across Clarke's skin when Lexa knotted the the ends off the cloth, making her wince.

“They will be returned to their people along with the instruction for them to vote. It will be up to the leaders of each clan if they're to be forgiven or removed from their position.” Lexa explained before she placed Clarke's hand back in her lap.

It was in that moment, Clarke realised how close they were. Her leg was suddenly burning where the skin touched Lexa's own. She could already feel the heat starting swirl in her stomach against her will. Abruptly, Clarke stood away from the contact.

Lexa rose from her own seat calmly, and Clarke breathed in deeply to settle herself.

Good night, Commander” Clarke said softly in Trigedasleng.

“Good night, Ambassador.” She replied.

For a second, Clarke thought Lexa was going to lean forwards to embrace her. It shocked her for a second that she would have been willing to let it happen.

Instead, the other woman walked straight past her and Clarke turned to watch her leave. The sight of Lexa's back had her heart fluttering to a stop again. From the base of her neck and dipping down past the low hanging hem of her dress was a tattoo. There were dark circles of varying sizes all the way down spine, linked together with thin jagged lines.

Lexa paused in the doorway for a moment, and Clarke stared into the sad green eyes that looked back at her. In that moment it struck Clarke how young Lexa truly was beneath the hard exterior of the Commander.

It also struck her how lonely Lexa looked as she blinked away from her and left the room.

Clarke's sleep that night had come in fits and starts. In the darkness of the room, she couldn't see the time on her fathers watch, but she knew it must have been every hour that she awakened.

She dreamt of Lexa. She dreamt of her small frame being over come by Roan. She dreamt that Nia's challenge had been successful.

Rubbing her hands over her face again, the blonde smiled when Pheme entered her room with the bowl of warm water.

“Thank you, Pheme.” The girl bowed her head slightly, and Clarke had expected her to leave as usual, but instead she lingered, shuffling nervously from foot to foot. “Is there something you wanted to ask?”

“Kwin Nia. She no dead?” Pheme nervously asked.

“No. We plan to have her... Imprisoned instead of executed.” Clarke tried to explain, hoping the Pheme would be able to understand.

The young girl tilted her head slightly, and Clarke wondered if she was trying to translate. Like every conversation Clarke had with Pheme, she felt guilty for forcing her to use a tongue she clearly struggled with.

“Yes, unexpected.” Pheme said suddenly.

“Pheme?” Clarke asked curiously, and the girl eyes snapped back into focus.

“Roan ask to see you. Front gate, two hours.” Pheme quickly informed her before quickly scurring out the room, leaving Clarke with no chance to ask her what it was the new King of Azgeda wanted.

Frowning, Clarke switched her radio on, waiting patiently for her mom to connect. In her haste to try and save Lexa the day before, she had forgotten to make contact with her mother, and Clarke hoped she hadn't done anything rash at her silence.

It was only a few minutes later, when Clarke had just finished patting her face dry, that the radio crackled to life.

“Clarke? Are you there? Please Clarke-”

Quickly reaching down, Clarke brought the receiver up to her face. “I'm here, mom.”

“Oh thank God.”

“I'm sorry, yesterday was-” Pausing she tried to think of the best way to describe exactly what the day before had been. “Busy.”

“We thought something had happened, I was about to send Kane to Polis.” There was a distinct sound of relief in her mom's voice and Clarke couldn't help feeling even more guilty for not radioing her.

“Nia tried to call a vote of no confidence at the summit,” She quickly explained, pushing on over the sound of her mom's questions. “Yesterday Lexa had to fight to retain the title of Commander, but she won, Nia's challenge didn't work.”

“And Queen Nia?”

“No longer Queen.” Clarke confirmed. “But she's still alive.”

“Okay, what happens now then? When is she being executed?” Her mom asked making Clarke's heart clench.

“She's not being executed.” There was silence from the radio. Not wanting to draw it out, Clarke rushed to continue. “All the clans are voting to replace blood must have blood with imprisonment instead.”

“I- Clarke-" Her mom sounded completely exasperated. "How am I meant to explain that to everyone here? We didn't vote for this.”

“Because I'm coming home tomorrow.” Clarke decided out loud and she heard her mom gasp from the other end of the radio.

“Tomorrow?” Her mom asked in disbelief.

“Yeah,” She replied, her voice wavering slightly, suddenly not so sure of her impulsive choice. “Yeah, tomorrow I'm coming home.” Clarke repeated, her voice growing stronger. “And together we'll tell everyone what's happening.”

Her mom started to gush from the other end of the radio to the point Clarke was sure there were probably tears of happiness in her eyes. To Clarke the thought of returning to Arkadia had the walls closing in on her again. Quickly, she scrambled from her seat to stand by the window to try and get air into her constricting lungs.

With the fresh air quickly calming her down, Clarke interrupted her mom. “How is Arkadia? Did we give the Grounders the water purification system?”

The pause on the other end was too long, and Clarke could already feel the dread rising. “Yes...” Her mom said hesitantly.


“Someone tried to tamper with it, they tried to poison them. If Raven hadn't noticed...” She didn't need to continue, Clarke couldn't even bear to comprehend the fall out of her people killing the army that was there to protect them.

“Was it Pike?” Another part of her wanted to ask if it was Bellamy, but even in his grief she couldn't imagine, she wouldn't imagine that he would try to kill that many innocent people.

“He didn't exactly deny it.” Her mom confirmed. “And neither did Bellamy.”

“Wanheda.” Roan greeted, smiling at her whilst he tightened the strap around the horse he was attaching to the small wooden cart.

Clarke had found him exactly where Pheme had told her, and she crossed her arms over her chest as she approached him. “King Roan.”

The man huffed slightly. “How's life as a visionary treating you?”

“How's life as a King treating you?” She asked in return, and Roan let out a deep gruff laugh. “Are you leaving today?”

“I need to return to my people, tell them what has become of my mother.” Moving past her, he threw a couple of sacks onto the back of the cart. “You'll be pleased to know the Ice Nation has voted for your plan.”

“It wasn't my plan.”

“Perhaps not, but you agreed to it.” Reaching down the new King's hands latched onto the side of a chest. His eyes squinted before he winced. Roan's grip fell away and instead he grabbed at the arm Clarke knew had suffered the brunt of Lexa's spear. Reaching down, Clarke gripped onto the handle on the other side of the box.

Grunting, Clarke took as much of the chests weight as possible as he lifted it with her. “Sore?”

“The way you were fretting about her I thought it would be an easy fight.” Roan grimaced. Together they shifted the box until it was up onto the cart. “She trained under Anya, I should have known better.”

Dusting off her hands, Clarke turned back to him. “Did you know?”

“Know what?” Roan asked, his face still contorted in pain as he rubbed at his arm.

“About Ontari.”

“She is my uncles daughter, yeah, I knew about her.” Clarke furrowed her brow, and Roan rolled his eyes in return. “And I'm sure you've told me everything. Both of us know when to keep a secret and when to tell one. We're more a like than either of us would like to admit, Wanheda.”

Smiling, Clarke pushed her shoulder against his arm slightly. “I don't know, I'd rather not have my beard looking like yours.”

A deep laugh erupted from the man and he shook his head. “So she does have a sense of humour. I thought those lines on your forehead were permanent.”

There were more boxes to load and Clarke continued to help him. Now he was King, she would have expected him to have had someone load the cart for him. She wasn't complaining though, it felt good to be using her muscles again. It felt oddly familiar working alongside Roan, she couldn't help being reminded of the times she would help her dad with his work.

“Looks like we both got what we wanted.” Clarke mused when the last box slid into place. “You're going home and I got my peace.”

“Everyone wants peace, Clarke. What is it you really want?” Roan asked her curiously.

She had wanted to be left alone. Then she had wanted to kill Lexa. Then she had wanted to kill the Ice Queen. Now past getting the Grounders to vote for peace without her having to kill anyone else, Clarke wasn't sure what she really wanted.

“Those lines are back.” He said before he jumped onto the cart. “Goodbye, Wanheda.”

“May we meet again, King Roan.”

 The woods in front of Clarke finally opened into a small clearing and the blonde smiled at the sight that greeted her.

The children she had seen in Lexa's throne room were all training with Anya barking orders at them. She smiled even wider when she spotted Ontari trying to batter her staff against Aden's and failing to land a single strike.

She had been looking for Lexa, according the the guards she was somewhere in the training grounds.

Aden seemed to spot her first, smiling brightly at her. Clarke wasn't sure if he was trying to impress her, but suddenly he started his own attack.

Ontari didn't stand a chance.

Clarke watched her defence quickly unravel, leaving her face completely open to Aden's weapon. The edge of Aden's staff collided with her jaw making the girl stumble backwards before falling onto the floor.

“Good Aden.” Anya praised, taking the staff out of his hands. “Ontari, you drop your defence too much, try again.”

I don't need you telling me what to do.” Ontari snapped back.

Anya didn't turn to face her. Instead she carried on checking the end of Aden's staff, before giving it back to the boy. It was only after it was back in his hands that she replied. “The blood on Aden's staff would say otherwise.”

I'm done training with children.” Pushing herself to her feet, Ontari started to walk to the far side of the grove where Clarke was standing.

Spitting out a wad of black blood onto the floor, Ontari leant heavily on her staff before glaring at Clarke. “What do you want?”

“Let me look at that.” Clarke requested, whilst pointing towards her lip. “I'm a healer.”

“You've been described as many things by my people, Wanheda. Never a healer.” The girl snarled back and Clarke merely rolled her eyes at her.


A few more moments passed, the tension between them almost suffocating, but Clarke was happy to continue watching the young Nightbloods training.

“You're still here.” Ontari muttered darkly.

“Unlike you, I have free reign of Polis.” Clarke goaded. “It must be strange for you to not be the favourite any more.”

“The Ice Queen-” Ontari started.

Clarke quickly cut her off, turning her attention away from the training session. “There is no Ice Queen. Not any more.”

“Because that false Commander says so? Our people will never accept Roan as King, just as they've never accepted Lexa as Commander.” The girl spat, moving off her staff to move closer to Clarke.

“Lexa is the Commander-”

“The title belongs to my people, it belongs to me.” Ontari's thumb jerked towards herself and Clarke had to stop herself from rolling her eyes again.

“Oh? And if Lexa does die how are you going to win the Conclave? A boy half your age just beat you.” Clarke pointed out.

“I wonder how well they defend themselves in their sleep.”

Ontari was confident. Too confident. And Clarke was willing to gamble on that.

Ontari tripped backwards when Clarke pushed into her, the blade that had been hidden beneath her shirt pressed against the Nightblood's throat. She had no intention of actually killing the girl, but she hoped the threat of it would be enough.

“I killed a whole clan, don't think I would bat an eye at killing you.” She threatened, the blade forcing a small trail of black to travel down Ontari's neck.

Such a fool, she thinks she killed them all.” Ontari muttered, her head raising confidently as a cruel smirk pulled across her face. “But she missed one.

Smiling, Clarke moved the blade away from the girl's throat and stepped away. It had been easier to make Ontari slip up and give her information than even Clarke had anticipated.

“Thank you Ontari.” Then switching seamlessly into Trigedasleng, Clarke continued. “You've been very helpful.”

Ontari's eyes widened, realisation dawning in them. “You- You're not meant to know our language! You used me!”

Surprise. And you really think you could become Commander?” Shaking her head, Clarke turned away from the girl.

Clarke heard the scream behind her, and she twisted quickly, just in time to see the end of Ontari's staff coming hurtling towards her. Before she even had the chance to step backwards, there was someone stepping in front of her.

Anya's arm caught the blow before it could land, her hand twisting around the weapon to knock it clean out of Ontari's hands. The palm of her hand cracked loudly against Ontari's nose sending her sprawling onto the floor.

Leaning down, Anya pressed her knee to the dazed girl's neck.

“There are two lessons here Natblida. The first is you never attack an ambassador,” Clarke watched Anya push her leg harder into Ontari's. “The second is never underestimate Clarke kom Skaikru.” Turning, Anya looked up at her. “She's full of surprises.”

Pulling Ontari to her feet, Anya shoved her towards two of the guards that had rushed over. “Take her to get cleaned up.”

Ontari went to argue back, but the blood that was freely spilling down her face had her spluttering, and Clarke watched as she struggled without any real intent against the guards dragging her back towards the city.

Get back to your training!” Anya ordered the children who were now staring at them.

Sitting on the fallen tree behind her, Clarke watched the Nightbloods take up their staffs again. The sound of the weapons colliding started echoing around the grove once more as Anya took a seat next to her.

“I'm sorry.” Clarke apologised.

Anya started to unwrap the white fabric that was wrapped around Ontari's staff. “Don't be, I should have realised you'd learnt it.” She replied distractedly.

“No, not for that. For what's happening with Nia.” The thought had been playing on her mind since Anya had left her in her room the day before. It felt right that she should be the one to apologise to her. Without her pushing, Lexa might not have agreed to Luna's plan. Without Clarke, Anya might have finally got her revenge on Nia.

Sighing, Anya seemed to understand what she was getting at. “My parents died a long time ago, Clarke. I don't don't seek vengeance for them any more.”

“But you did?” She questioned.

“Yes.” The other woman's eyes grew distant as she looked at the Nightblood's. “I asked Lexa to let me lead the army that would avenge them.”

Understanding washed over her, because Clarke knew that army never happened. That the war of vengeance had never happened. “And instead she asked them to join the coalition.” She guessed.

“Do you trust Lexa? As you did before the Mountain?” The question caught Clarke off guard, and she had to pause for a moment.

“I trust she wants to do the right thing for our people.” Clarke finally replied. “But no, I don't trust her as blindly as I did.”

Nodding her head, Anya looked back towards her. “Perhaps it is a good thing not to be so trusting any more.”

Clarke didn't reply, choosing to just let the silence pass between them whilst they watched the tiny warriors fighting. She hadn't let herself think too much about her personal relationship with Lexa. Any time she had indulged, she had quickly squashed the thoughts. It didn't matter any more what her and Lexa could have been. Clarke would never fully forgive her for the Mountain no matter how much she understood the decision.

Lexa had betrayed her when Clarke needed her most.

“Swap partners!” Anya's voice suddenly erupted from beside her, shocking her out of her thoughts once more.

“What Lexa did to become Commander... Will they have to do the same?” Clarke asked hesitantly. Her heart was already aching for Aden and the children in front of her. At the thought of them having to do the same thing Lexa did.

“No.” Anya answered instantly. “Lexa cares too much for them.”

Her curiosity piqued, Clarke continued her questioning. “So what happens? After Lexa dies.”

“The current Commander determines how the next will be chosen. Lexa's predecessor wasn't-” Anya paused, and Clarke could almost see the internal struggle on the usual stoic woman's face. “He was not a good man.”

Clarke could tell the woman wanted to tell her more. Silently she waited, watching the emotion washing over Anya's face until she was ready to carry on. “When they were just children he gifted all the nightbloods a horse each. He pushed them to become close with the animals. They fed them, cleaned them, they became each natblida's closet companion.”

“What happened?” Clarke asked, though she was sure the answer was about to break her heart.

“He told them to kill their horses.” Anya stated. “Lexa refused, even as her kin slaughtered their own animals she stood strong and wouldn't obey his command...” Her voice trailed off. “As punishment he beat her until she could barely stand. He then made her watch as he killed the beast, slowly and painfully until it drowned in its own blood.” Clarke could feel the tears prickling her eyes. “He locked her in a room with its body for a week.” Anya added quietly.

Clarke felt sick, her throat constricting painfully at the thought of a young Lexa having to live through such cruelty.

“She was sent to me a week later. Even though she had been his favourite, from that point on the Commander believed her to be weak and thought sending her to his best general would mould her into a more pliable Natblida again.”

“What did you do when she arrived?”

“I gave her a new horse.” A smile pulled at Anya's lips. “Althea. She still lives here in the Polis stables.”

Clarke didn't reply, her head full of thoughts at the story Anya had told her. If the other woman saw the tear that spilled down her cheek she didn't mention it and Clarke quickly wiped it away.

Without her realising, Anya had started to slowly tap her finger against the back of her hand. Clarke let her breathing fall in time with each touch as her thoughts started to slow down again.

Eventually, Anya stood again, brushing down her coat. “Will you be eating with me tonight?” Anya asked.

Clarke nodded her head, ready to continue deeper into the woods to find Lexa.

“Anya.” She called before the the woman could walk too far away from her. “Thank you.”

Anya seemed to understand the weight behind it. When they first met, Clarke never could have imagined they would end up here. That they would end up being what Clarke could only describe as friends. Even though she had fought against Anya, tried to kill her more than once, the other woman hadn't backed down for her. She wondered if that was just Anya's nature. To see the person behind the angry facade and to nurture them back into a whole person again.

She wondered if Lexa had been the same when Anya first met her.

“Go. Before I hit you with my staff.” Anya gently threatened, but Clarke could tell from the genuine smile on the woman's face that she felt the same.

 Lexa wasn't that much further, and Clarke paused against the tree line to watch her train with Luna. She watched in awe as they both ducked and wove around each blow rather than actually hitting each other. It was more of a dance than it was actual fighting

“We have a visitor.” Luna announced, and Lexa quickly looked up towards her. It was gentle, but Clarke still heard the hollow thunk of Luna's staff hitting the side of Lexa's head. “I win.”

Grimacing, Lexa rubbed lightly where Luna's weapon had landed.

“I'll leave you to talk. It was good to see you again, Wanheda.” Luna smiled, before she was disappearing into the woods.

“We had a bet. Now I have to give her the pot of honey the Trishana ambassador gave me.” Lexa said, a subtle pout creasing at her lips. Clarke couldn't help wondering if this was what Lexa used to be like. If before the weight of being a Commander had been lain across her shoulders, she had looked as relaxed as she did now. After Anya's story about how Lexa ended up in the in the older women's care. Clarke couldn't help analysing everything she knew about her. Was it actually the burden of leading her people that had made Lexa the way she was? Or was it growing up in the shadow of such a cruel man?

The pout was gone as quickly as it appeared though, and Lexa quickly straightened her back as if she had remembered who's presence she was in.

Glancing down at Lexa's hand, Clarke could see her fiddling with the wrapping. The bandage was stained with black, and without think, Clarke pulled Lexa's hand up to inspect the damage.

“It won't heal if you don't let it.”

Lexa let out a grunt, before pulling her hand away to shift the bandage back over the cut. “I've been injured before, Clarke.”

He beat her until she could barely stand.”

Clarke blinked away from the brunette, looking down at the floor for a moment. “I'm going back to Arkadia tomorrow.”

Looking up again, Clarke could tell Lexa wanted to say something. It was almost a minute later before Lexa finally nodded her head.

“Would you come with me?” Clarke asked suddenly and Lexa's brow creased slightly as if she was trying to figure out what Clarke's motives were for asking her to go. “I think it would do my people good to actually see you. To see that you're a real human being and not just a name they've never met.”

Truthfully it was more than that. She knew Lexa's support of her would be unwavering, and selfishly she wanted the woman by her side to remind her, she was making the right choices.

“If you wish me to, then I'll go, Clarke.” Lexa replied. The blonde hadn't expected herself to let out a sigh of relief at the agreement. “Are you okay?”

Despite the thoughts of Anya's story still overwhelming her, and despite the swirling anxiety in her stomach at returning home, Clarke nodded. “I'm fine, I just spoke to Ontari." She quickly continued. "I think I know how the Ice Nation attacked Mount Weather.”

There was only one person unaccounted for after she destroyed the Mountain. Only one person Clarke had assumed was dead without seeing their body. It was the man that had helped the Commander betray her. The man that had pushed Clarke into becoming Wanheda.

Carl Emerson.

Chapter Text

Clarke yawned as she sat upon her horse, the gentle sway of the animal slowly lulling her to sleep.

They had left Polis in the early hours of the morning, long before the sun had even started to rise in the dark sky. Not that it had particularly mattered to Clarke. Sleep hadn't been attainable for her that night. It had taken everything in her to stay in her bed and not spend the time pacing the room waiting for their departure instead. She was returning to the Ark, back to the place she had run away from all those months ago. Her thoughts had been in overdrive all night, whilst her mind tried to compartmentalise everything she was feeling.

Being outside the walls of Polis and back in the wilds that surrounded the city had helped though. With every breath of the clean, crisp morning air, Clarke's mind had started to unravel. There was something calming out the smell of the wet grass and trees, about the sound of the gentle drops of rain and the melodic bursts of bird song all around them. Clarke hadn't realised how much she craved being outside until she found herself there again. She had missed it

It didn't mute out all her thoughts though. As the scenery around her started to become increasingly familiar, Clarke found herself tensing with every recognisable landmark.

"You look nervous." Lexa said from beside her, and Clarke jerked up right in surprise. "And tired."

"I didn't sleep." Clarke admitted, loosening her grip on the reins to let her horse shake out its head from her sudden movement.

"Thinking about home?"

"Thinking about whether Arkadia is home." She confessed, the new name of Camp Jaha still feeling foreign on her tongue. It hadn't been her home before she left, not really. Camp Jaha was just a place she had slept on the nights she hadn't stayed at the Grounder camp. It was strange, and Clarke smiled at the thought, because if anything Polis had started to feel more like a home than Camp Jaha ever did.

There was only one place Clarke had ever truly considered to be her home though. One place she would never truly see again.

The Ark.

A part of her still longed for the cramped compartment her family had called their own. The four metal walls they had called home. She missed the constant hum of machinery around her. She missed sitting in the mess hall with Wells and with her father. She even missed the constant temperature that never fluctuated. She missed having a home.

"When I left, it had a different name. I had a different name." Clarke continued, biting on her lip to distract herself from the memories of the place she could never return to.

"You left a hero to your people, and you return one." Lexa replied simply. Clarke felt her brow creasing at the brunette's choice of words. She had never considered herself to be a hero. She doubted her people saw her as one either. "The Mountain Slayer returns after the capture of the Ice Queen. You bring them justice."

Now that wasn't true, and Clarke couldn't help looking pointedly at Lexa. "You bring them justice."

"We bring them peace." Lexa finally replied.

Clarke felt a smile tug at her lips.

"Is it okay to leave Polis like that?" Clarke asked. She knew a rider was being dispatched that morning to tell Roan about Emerson, so there wouldn't be any news from the new King of Azgeda for at least a couple of days. She still hated the thought that they might be missing something though.

"Anya is there, as is Luna, I trust that both of them won't let the place burn to the ground."

"And Ontari?"

"I've instructed Titus to increase the guard on the nightbloods during the nights. Anya will be keeping an eye on Ontari." Lexa had apparently taken Ontari's threats as seriously as Clarke had hoped she would, but doubt still niggled at her. "What worries you, Clarke?"

"I just- It felt like it was too easy."

"I'm glad you think my fight to the death was easy." Lexa retorted, scoffing slightly.

Clarke glared at the other woman. "I meant, Nia's smart right? You said she was emotional, but she was smart? So why didn't she have a back up in case something went wrong?"

Lexa nodded, mulling over Clarke's words. "It would not be the first time she's overestimated her power."

Despite Lexa's confidence, Clarke couldn't help worrying that she was wrong. Maybe it was the effect the last few months had on her. Maybe now when anything good happened, it would leave her feeling like disaster was just around the corner. Clarke hoped it didn't last because she was tired of feeling like any second everything was going to go wrong. She was tired of feeling so on edge all the time.

"Will you be staying with your people tonight?" Lexa suddenly asked, making Clarke jolt in her saddle again.

"No." Clarke answered instantly. The mere thought of having to spend a night, enclosed by the gates of Arkadia, had anxiety swirling uncomfortably in her stomach. "Not tonight."

The unexpected sound of heavy, quickly approaching, footsteps had Clarke's heart pounding in her chest. Her hands were already starting to pull back the reins of her horse when suddenly the two scouts Lexa had sent ahead were coming around the natural curve of the hill.

"Heda!" The closest scout called out.

"What is it?" It was only subtle, but Clarke could hear the worry in Lexa's voice.

One of the scouts came to a stop in front of their horses, his arm crossing his chest and his head bowing. "Indra has asked if you will be joining her for your mid day meal?" He asked in deep Trigedasleng. Clarke's heart began to return to it's normal rhythm.

"No. We'll be heading on to Arkadia immediately." Lexa replied, her shoulders visible relaxing.

The scout only nodded his head once before running off ahead again, presumably to give Indra his Commander's reply.

It hadn't been bad news, but Clarke had immediately reacted as if it would be. Maybe Lexa was right. Maybe Nia had overestimated the success of her plan. Maybe this was just Clarke expecting the worst to happen.

The sound of the army ahead of them pulled the blonde from her thoughts. It was noisy, and Clarke could hear the murmur of a hundred voices. There was a distant sound of metal clashing against metal from the training of tens of warriors.

The sound didn't prepare her for the actual sight of them though.

Hundreds of men and women covered the field, all of them Grounders, and all of them there to protect her people. The sight reminded Clarke of before Mount Weather and she knew the situation wasn't the same, that the stakes were different, but she still felt the overwhelming urge to pull her horse back the other way and flee.

"Heda!" Indra's voice called, snapping Clarke out of her reverie. She had been so caught up in it, she hadn't noticed the woman approaching. "Congratulations on your victory."

"News has travelled quickly I see." Lexa replied with a small smile tugging at her lips before she dismounted.

Indra smiled right back. "Come, your fresh horses are this way."

Shifting her leg over the saddle, Clarke winced at the soreness of her thighs. The small amount of riding she had done since being on the ground hadn't prepared her for their non stop trek from Polis to Arkadia.

"The news of your plans for the Queen have also reached us." Indra continued whilst she led them towards the tent sitting upon the highest point in the field. "Not all of the army agrees with your decision."

"And Rhea?" Lexa asked, making Clarke frown at the unfamiliar name.

"She awaits your visit, Heda."

Clarke watched Lexa's jaw grind for a couple of moments before she nodded. "Tell her Wanheda and I will join her tomorrow after the mid day sun." Lexa informed the woman.

The rest of their walk was in silence, and Clarke could almost feel the tension radiating off Lexa. Whoever Rhea was, Lexa didn't seem comfortable about going to her.

Lexa mounted her fresh horse easily. "Have my tent prepared for tonight," she instructed. "Wanheda and I will return to camp before sundown."

"Yes Heda." With a grunt, Clarke pulled herself up onto her own horse, her thighs protesting as they rested against the new saddle. The Grounder holding her horse steady unwound the reins for her. As he looked up at her, Clarke noticed the white cloud covering one of his eyes.

It was a few minutes later that they left for Arkadia. A fresh set of guards surrounded them, and Clarke nibbled at the bread one of them had handed her before leaving.

"Do a lot of your people get cataracts?" Clarke asked, after they had left the borders of the camp again. Lexa was quiet, her brow knitted together in thought and Clarke suddenly realised the brunette had probably never heard the word before. "Sorry, the clouding over his eye, it's called a cataract." She quickly explained.

Lexa nodded her head. "Many who make it into the late summers will get them, some earlier. You have seen them before?"

"We used to get them all the time on the Ark, something about the radiation, my mom was always treating them."

"There are few healers who can remove them until they're at their worst here." Lexa told her. "Those that do remove them early often fail."

From what her mom had taught her, Clarke knew if they were left long enough the hardened lens could be literally shattered. She supposed that was the technique the Grounders had been using.

"She was going to teach me how to do it." Clarke confessed as she looked studiously at the horizon. "I was meant to follow in her footsteps and become a doctor."

"Is that what you wanted?" The question had the blonde turning back to face Lexa. She was looking at her with genuine curiosity. Clarke couldn't remember anyone, except her father, asking her if becoming a doctor was what she actually wanted.

"Yeah. Yeah I did," she smiled at the memories of working along side her mother in the Ark's clinic. "I wanted to help people."

It was a few moments later when Lexa continued, and Clarke was surprised to hear what sounded like nerves in her voice. "Polis is always in search of more healers, if staying in Arkadia is not something you wish to do."

The implication was clear. Clarke was sure Polis did need more healers, but she could hazard a guess it was Lexa asking her to stay, and not the Commander.

"What about your people?" Clarke asked.

"My people respect you, Clarke. They would welcome your presence in the city." The other woman tried to assure her.

Clarke hummed lightly in response. It was something to think about. Her gut reaction was yes, she wanted to stay in the Grounder capital. She wanted to stay in the place that was slowly starting to heal the wounds of the past few months.

Gently, she nudged her foot against the Commander's and quirked her eyebrow. "I'm not sure Titus would be throwing a welcoming party."

A quick smirk appeared on Lexa's face. "There are exceptions to every rule, Clarke."

Slowly, Clarke and Lexa pulled their horses to a stop. From inside the gates, Clarke could hear the shouts of the guards. Her heart felt like it was trying to escape from her chest, and Clarke rubbed her hands against her trousers as her palms started to sweat uncomfortably. There was no turning back.

The giant sheets of metal that acted as the gates to Arkadia started to creek open. Clarke grabbed onto the reins of her horse as it tried to back away. It was her mom that walked through the gate first, with Kane following straight behind her.

"Clarke." Her mom smiled. As quickly as her aching thighs would allow her, Clarke dismounted from her horse to let herself sink into her mothers embrace. "Welcome home sweetheart."

"Hello Commander." Kane said from next to her, but Clarke kept her eyes closed as her mom continued to rub at her back, relieving some of the tension that was coiled there.

Finally pulling away, Clarke smiled. "Hi mom."

The older woman stroked her thumbs over Clarke's jacket for a few moments, her eyes darting over her face. Apparently satisfied that her daughter hadn't been damaged since she had last seen her, her mother stepped away fully.

"Welcome to Arkadia, Commander." Her mom greeted before opening her arm towards the gate. "Please, come in, lets get out of this weather."

Clarke gasped when they passed through the entrance.

From the barren land she had left behind, Camp Jaha had been transformed into what Clarke could only describe as a thriving. Vegetables were growing on every available plot of land, and what looked like a well sat to the side of the main pathway. Solar panels lined the roofs of the buildings and Clarke looked up in awe at the towering remains of the Ark.

It took her a moment to realise people were staring.

Clarke wasn't sure if it was the sight of her or Lexa that was making them pause. Either way, the wide walls of the camp felt like they were getting narrower, and Clarke had to dig her nails into the palm of her hand to try and keep herself grounded.

The applause started slowly. Just a single person clapping, then two, then four, then more than Clarke could count as almost everyone around them started to join in. Underneath the noise, she could just make out the murmurs of her name.

Her nails dug deeper.

Her mom smiled at her encouragingly over her shoulder. The blonde tried her best to return it as her eyes started to scan the crowd. Despite all the smiles that were beaming back at her, Clarke couldn't help noticing those who weren't smiling. There were those who had their arms crossed as they glowered at her. Others were pretending they couldn't hear the applause that was happening around them. Looking at Lexa, Clarke could see her green eyes scouring the crowd, a slight frown on her face as she apparently spotted the same people Clarke had.

It was only when they started to approach the Ark again that the noise started to calm down, everyone slowly returning to their work. Finally, Clarke let her hands relax.

With the crowd in front of them dissipating, she caught sight of Octavia and Lincoln arguing quietly besides the wreckage. She couldn't quite hear what Octavia had just hissed at Lincoln, but the anger on his face was clear to see when he whirled around to face them.

Both she and Lexa halted.

He looked shocked, his eyes blinking quickly before he slowly approached. His movements were cautious and his head bowed slightly as if Lexa was about to kill him on the spot for daring to come close to her.

"Heda." Lincoln greeted.

"Lincoln kom Skaikru." Lexa replied evenly.

Clarke could see the sudden sheen of tears in the gentle man's eyes.

"I've been expelled from the Trikru?" Lincoln asked with a strain to his voice.

Lexa lifted her chin. "Rhea would never allow you to stay."

He seemed to understand, but from the glare Octavia was sending her way, Clarke doubted the girl felt the same way.

Excusing herself from the group, Clarke went to join her. "Nice clothes." Octavia scowled when she approached.

"Don't, Octavia." Clarke warned. Octavia's arms stayed locked against her own chest, and she let out an audible scoff. "How are you?"

"Great, just peachy, my boyfriends been kicked out his clan and my brothers been arrested." Octavia angrily snapped.

Clarke felt her brow creasing in complete confusion. "Bellamy?!"

"It's not like I have another one, Clarke."

"Is he okay? I- What, what happened?"

"Clarke." Her mom's voice had Clarke pivoting around. "I'll explain inside, come on."

Sighing, she faced Octavia regretfully. "I've got to go."

"Yeah, I heard. Go play politician, I'll be out here in the real world." Kicking off the side of the Ark, Octavia stormed away from her. To her surprise Lincoln didn't follow her though, and Clarke could see the pain on his face as he watched her walk away.

Lexa was still studying the maps of the lands around them when Clarke finished explaining what Luna's proposition had been. The second they had entered the room, the other woman had let Clarke take the lead. She answered questions when they were put to her, but otherwise Lexa had spent the entire time looking at the charts and maps that were strung up around the room.

It felt oddly good that Lexa had left her to steer the meeting herself. That she hadn't tried to take charge.

"We vote yes." Kane answered.

"Marcus, we need to talk about this." Her mom quickly said, her eyes staring at the man.

"There's nothing to talk about, Abby. This offers us peace, and protection, with no more bloodshed. The answer is absolutely yes."

"What about our people? What about Pike? He would never agree to this." Her mother argued back.

"I'll speak to Pike, he'll understand." Clarke interrupted, stepping closer to the table that was between them.

"Clarke... Last night, he tried to-" Nervously her mom's eyes flickered to Lexa, and Clarke could see her visibly swallow when the woman turned back from the maps to face them. "He tried to take guns from the armoury to kill the Grounder army."

"I- What? Why would he..." Clarke felt lost for words. Suddenly a sick feeling of dread descended on her. "Bellamy..."

"He gave Pike the keys." Kane admitted. Clarke could see Lexa's body tensing beside her.

"We will both talk with this Pike." Lexa demanded, her voice terse and clipped. "He will come to understand this is best for all members of the coalition." It was the first time Lexa had spoken unprompted, and Clarke nodded in agreement.

"Is that a good idea?" Her mom asked.

Clarke knew what she really mean. She meant was if it was a good idea for Lexa to be talking to him after they had just admitted Pike tried to kill her army.

"It's fine, mom." Clarke answered, trying to smile as reassuringly as possible.

"Okay. I'll have a call put out for everyone to gather in the mess hall in two hours time." Kane announced whilst looking down at the watch on his arm.

"And what are we telling them?" Clarke asked nervously, because her mom, the Chancellor hadn't actually agreed to go along with the plan.

Apparently picking up on her nerves, her mom walked around the table to take her daughter's hands in her own. "We'll tell them that we agree with the Ice Queen's punishment. That we agree with blood must not have blood."

Clarke smiled with relief. "Thank you."

Her mom and Kane left them not long after that, and subconsciously Clarke started to pace the room as she waited for Pike to be brought in. Lexa didn't say anything to her, apparently just as lost in her own thoughts as she stared at the maps again.

It was only Clarke who jumped when the door swung open revealing the two guards who were accompanying Pike.

Clarke watched nervously when Lexa turned to silently watch the man who had threatened the life of her army. Twice. The table in the centre of the room was between them, and Clarke hoped Pike would stay on his side and not risk Lexa's wrath.

"Mind telling me what this is about?" Pike asked once the guards had left the room, his arms crossing over his puffed out chest.

"My army is here to protect your people. Yet..." Lexa answered slowly before she approached the table. "You try to kill them."

"To protect us?" A humourless laugh echoed around the room and Pike shook his head. "No, they're here to herd us like cattle for the slaughter. And you," He said, pointing towards Clarke. "Agreed to it. You've condemned your own people to death."

"She's not the one who keeps trying to kill a peace keeping force." Lexa snarled.

"Peace? What do you people know about peace?"

"You people?" Clarke questioned, finally stepping closer.

"Savages." Pike elucidated, his lip curling and teeth clenching.

Clarke saw red.

"They're not savages." She seethed.

"I'm not sure I should be taking the word of a girl that's been living among our enemy for weeks." He said mockingly. "What exactly is it you've been doing in that tower, Clarke? Playing house?"

This wasn't the Charles Pike, Clarke remembered. This wasn't the teacher she remembered. He had been kind, full of endless patience and understanding, but this man was none of those things. All Clarke could see was his unequivocal hate and disdain for the Grounders.

"The Grounders are not our enemy, Pike." She tried to reason, desperately trying to seek out the man she had grown up knowing.

Pike turned his attention away from Clarke to stare at Lexa. "From where I'm standing that's exactly what they are."

"Would the enemy put 300 of their own people between us and person that wanted us dead? Lex- The Commander will protect her people Pike, we're part of the coalition now, we are her people."

"How long until she betrays us again? I heard about what she did at that Mountain, how long until she screws us over and gets us killed?" Pike questioned, his angry eyes once again drilling into Clarke's. "It's time for you to stop playing grown up Clarke and let the adults handle this."

"Yeah, because you clearly handle things so well." Clarke retorted, her anger finally getting the better of her.

"Do you know what they did to us? Out in the snow? Do you know what they did to me?" There were tears starting to well in his eyes. "They killed us. Hung our children up from the trees, then killed anyone that tried to get near them. They left the bodies of my wife, of my son, and they made me watch as the animals tore them apart. You don't even know what we had to survive that winter, Clarke, what we had to go through to escape that ship and hide from the Grounders, only for them to start picking us off one by one as if it was sport."

Clarke tried to swallow back the lump in her throat. "I'm- I'm sorry, Pike, I'm sorry for what happened to your family, but that wasn't the Grounders. That was the Azgeda. That was Queen Nia." She tried to explain, her heart still breaking for what Pike had been forced to witness.

"Queen Nia? The Commander? The Grounders are all the same."

"Enough." The Commander's voice cut through the room, and the sound of authority in it had Clarke's back tensing.

Leaning his hands onto the table, Pike smirked at her. "I don't listen to children. I'll tell you when I've said enough-"

Before Clarke could even comprehend what was happening, Lexa was unsheathing her knife.

Pike's roar of pain echoed around the room. Clarke watched on in horror as the brunette buried the blade deeper into his hand. Blood was already pooling beneath Pike's palm, and Clarke was sure she heard the gentle click of the knifes tip hitting the table beneath it.


"You would do well to remember who I am." The Commander snarled. She softly rocked her knife, forcing Pike to cry out again. "I am Heda, the Commander of the thirteen clans. It is me that ordered your people be kept alive. It is me that can give the order to have you all slaughtered if you dare to defy me."

"Lexa that's enough!" Clarke tried again.

Lexa ripped the knife out of weeping man's hand, and Clarke flinched at the agonised cry that tore from Pike's throat. Blood continued to pour out onto the table as he slumped over it, his free hand clutching desperately at his wrist.

"Do not insult me again Pike kom Skaikru, or next time I'll take your whole hand."

"You are angry with me?" Lexa asked from behind her as Clarke marched down the hallway.

Angry wasn't the right word. Clarke was livid.

The guards had stormed back into the room, just after Lexa had begun wiping her knife clean, their eyes had been wide and terrified at the sight in front of them. Pike was going to be fine, his hand had been clenching and unclenching when they hauled him to his feet to take him to the medical bay. Clarke didn't know if it was intentional on Lexa's part that there would be no permanent damage, or if it was just luck.

"In here." Clarke barked, almost pushing the Commander into a side room and slamming the door behind them. "What the hell were you thinking Lexa? You can't just do things like that."

"I just did." She stated simply.

"You're just giving them more ammunition! Don't you understand? They're going to think they were right, they're going to think you're savages!"

Lexa squinted her eyes and stepped closer to Clarke, her voice low and dangerous. "And is that what you think?"

"No, Lexa, I don't-" Swallowing back her anger, Clarke tried to calm herself down. "I don't think you're savages, Lexa, but stabbing someone you don't like in the hand isn't going to help things around here. You saw them outside! Not everyone is exactly thrilled that we're here."

"I'm the Commander-"

"But my people don't understand what that means." Clarke implored, desperate for Lexa to understand that her people didn't get how important she was. The most important person to them had always been the Chancellor. They were the person who made the decisions, and those decisions would only ever effect them. Now they were part of something greater, where someone they had never voted for was making decisions for them. Someone who wasn't part of their people. They would get it, Clarke knew they would get it eventually, but shows like that were only going to confirm to those who were wavering that they were right to be suspicious.

It seemed to take forever before Lexa slowly nodded with what the blonde was sure was subtle regret in her eyes. Clarke felt her shoulders start to relax again, and she stared into the green eyes that were studying her. There were flecks of blue in them as well, all around the outside. Clarke watched in awe as the black of Lexa's pupils slowly expanded.

A knock at the door jerked her attention away. Quickly, Clarke stepped back when she realised just how close they had become.

"Yeah?" Clarke called out.

"Blake is ready to see you." A voice said through the door, and Clarke quickly opened it. "This way."

Lexa followed her silently. When Clarke turned back to her, she could see the woman's jaw twitching, apparently still mulling over what Clarke had requested of her. She knew Lexa wasn't used to having people speak out of turn to her, but she hoped that she would understand that the people of Arkadia needed time to get used to the Commander's presence in a position that had never existed for them before.

The guard in front of her stopped abruptly. "In here." He said as he pulled out a key to unlock the door for her.

"Can you..." Clarke went to ask, but Lexa was already nodding and she stepping away from the door to stand on the other side of the corridor.

"Take your time, Clarke."

Clarke smiled at her, silently thanking her for giving her the space to speak to Bellamy on her own.

Inside the room, Bellamy was leaning against the far wall. Clarke could see the slight off set of his hips as he tried to keep the weight off his injured limb.

"How's your leg?" She asked gently.

"What do you care?" He snapped straight back at her.


Dark brown eyes stared back at her coldly. "What are you doing here, Clarke?"

"We need to talk-"

"You've decided that? The mighty Wanheda, who chose the Grounders over her own people, who turned her back on us when we came to rescue you. Now you want to talk." He mocked.

"I came here to tell you that the Ice Queen has been defeated, she's paying for her crimes against our people. Bellamy, it's over." Clarke pushed on, hoping her words would have some effect on him, that his tense shoulders would relax, that the anger that was practically rolling off of him would dissipate.

"There it is again. Why do you get to decide it's over?" He asked her accusingly.

Clarke couldn't help creasing her brow at his increasingly hostile tone. "We did our part-" It was the wrong thing to say, and Bellamy instantly cut across her.


"Lexa and I-” She stumbled again. “We- The Grounders, we're all working together, you can't let Pike ruin that." Bellamy visibly tightened his arms around his chest, the defiance and anger still clear on his face. Clarke didn't understand, this wasn't the man she had left behind. This wasn't the Bellamy who had hugged her in acceptance and understanding outside the gates of Camp Jaha. This wasn't the Bellamy who had risked his life to try and rescue her from Anya. "This isn't who you are-"

"You're wrong.” He interrupted. “This is who I've always been and I let you and Octavia and Kane convince me that we could trust these people when they have shown over and over who they are, and I won't let anyone else die for that mistake." Emotion swam in his eyes, and Clarke wanted to comfort him, she wanted to tell him that he could trust the Grounders.


"You left Clarke." Bellamy interrupted again, his arms untangling so he could point a finger towards her. "You left me. You left everyone."

"I had to-"

"Enough, Clarke." He said his angry tone cutting across her as he pushed away from the wall to slowly limp towards her. "You are not in charge here, so why are you the one making the decisions? Huh? No one voted for you, no one in their right mind would want you to be in charge Clarke, because when you are people die. You were willing to let a bomb drop on my sister. Then you made a deal with Lexa, who left us in Mount Weather to die and forced us to kill everyone who helped us, people who trusted me."

Each word of Bellamy's speech cut at her, and Clarke could feel her own anger churning in her stomach.

"What would you have done differently, Bellamy?!" Clarke bit back. "What would have done to stop all those people dying, because the last time I checked when you were in charge 300 innocent people died. Children had to watch their parents have the air sucked out of their lungs, because you threw our only chance of communicating with the Ark in a river to save your own ass."

"I didn't know-"

"That doesn't matter! I didn't know either!" She railed as black dots started to dance across her vision with her increasing fury. "You were going to poison them, and then you were willing to kill them in their sleep. The men and women that were going to protect you from the Ice Nation and you were going to kill them. And what? You need me here to stop you from doing that? You need me to tell you that doing that would have been wrong?"

"I wouldn't have betrayed our friends, Clarke! I never would have trusted Lexa if it wasn't for you!" Bellamy tried to defend himself, but he took a step back the moment Clarke advanced on him, her anger completely overwhelming her.

"Do you really want to be in charge? Do you really want to know what it's like to carry around the weight of all those people? You're right Bellamy, people do die when I'm in charge. There are hundreds of people dead because of me. I killed them. Me. The Wanheda," she repeated in the same mocking tone he had used. "And I have to live with that. That's all I do, I kill, and I kill, and I pray that it's worth it, I pray that it was the right thing to do to keep our people safe! And I just want it all to stop! Don't you understand? I don't want this, I don't want a war! I just want peace so this can stop!" Clarke heaved and she quickly wiped at the angry tears that had started to spill down her face.


"Don't speak to me about people dying when I'm in charge, Bellamy. Because I know, okay? I know. That's why I had to leave. Our people deserved a leader who wasn't tainted, who wasn't going to get them all killed. I thought they'd have that with you here. I'm not a hero, what I've done isn't something that should be celebrated. People die when I'm around, and you all stood a better chance without me." Clarke finally concluded, her breath coming in broken pants as she turned away from him to try and get her frayed emotions back under control.

Clarke hadn't lost control of herself like that in months. Apart from her outburst in Polis, the last time had been when she was still alone in the woods and she had screamed herself hoarse into the darkness of the forest whilst beating her fists bloody against the bark of a tree. It had happened a lot in those first few weeks, she had torn apart her delicately put together camp more times than she could count in a fit of rage.

"Is that what you really thought?" Bellamy asked quietly.

Clarke tried to blink back the tears that were still trying to fall. "I thought me not being here was best for everyone. I thought it was best for me." She confessed. There was silence, and Clarke gently tapped her own finger against the back of her hand to try and recreate the comforting touch Anya had given her the day before.

"What happened whilst you were out there, Clarke?" He asked softly. Instantly, Clarke felt her body tensing  up.

"I tried to lose myself, I tried to forget who I was and what I had done." She sniffed loudly, wiping her hand across her dripping nose. "I just wanted to be left alone."

Clarke spent a few more moments trying to calm herself down before daring to speak again. "I am sorry about your girlfriend, Bellamy. She didn't deserve what happened to her."

A broken sound erupted from Bellamy's throat. "I loved her, Clarke. I loved Gina so much and the Grounders took her away from me." His voice cracked. The blonde couldn't help the guilt that started to swim in her stomach at his next words. "I should have been there, but instead I was chasing after you."

It made sense. Bellamy blamed her for what happened to Gina. If Clarke hadn't left, if she had stayed at Camp Jaha then Bellamy never would have left to search for her. Gina might have still been alive.

"I know you're grieving," Clarke said gently. "But you can't put this on the Grounders, you can't blame them all for something they didn't do." She carried on softly.

"It just hurts, Clarke." Bellamy gasped loudly, tears falling down his face in an almost constant stream. "It hurts so bad and I have all this anger and I don't- All I know is fighting, it's all I'm good at." Without thinking, Clarke pulled him into her arms and let him squeeze painfully at her back as hot wet tears soaked the fabric at her shoulder. "I loved her so much."

"I'm sorry, Bellamy. I'm so sorry." She whispered into the side of his head, her lips dropping a gentle kiss onto his hairline as he continued to fall apart.

By the time their horses ambled back into the Grounders camp, the sun had already set. The long days journey, combined with the emotional whirlwind she had just been on, left Clarke feeling exhausted. All she wanted was to curl up on a bed and at least try to sleep.

As they passed back into the border of the Grounder camp, Clarke started to replay Kane's speech in her head.

"On the ground they have a saying. They say 'blood must have blood'. And despite what we try to convince ourselves we were no different on the Ark. We were no better. We floated people for the smallest of crimes, we killed people who were just trying to feed their sick family. Well now the Commander of the Grounders has asked us to help her make a change. She has asked us to stand beside her and say no more. No more 'blood must have blood'. No more floating people. No more death for the sake of death. And we have agreed to do so."

Kane's speech had been met with a stunned silence, and Clarke had almost collapsed from how long she held her breath before the clapping began. Her people had agreed. Her people were going to stand by her decision. Clarke couldn't remember the last time she had felt so relieved.

Lexa dismounted her horse first. Clarke didn't think anything of it when she approached to help Clarke off her own. Her thighs were aching again making her groan when the abused muscles took her weight.

"It gets easier." Lexa said. "With practice."

Clarke let out another groan at the thought of having to spend hours on a horse again to get used to the sensation. Then she let out another when she realised in a couple of days she would be doing exactly the same thing for their return to Polis. She followed Lexa silently, her legs shaking slightly, as the woman led them towards the tent they had stopped outside earlier in the day.

The guards standing outside opened the flaps for them both to enter, and Clarke froze once they made their way inside. There were two cots sitting on opposite sides of the tent, both of them covered in a bundle of furs. Clarke looked between them in confusion. When she had said she was staying at the Grounder camp that night, she had expected to be in a separate tent to the Commander's.

"Sorry, I can have a separate tent arranged." Lexa suddenly announced from besides her, apparently picking up on Clarke's confusion and mistaking it as something else.

The blonde shook her head. "No- No it's fine."

"You are sure?" Lexa asked.

Walking over to the cot that was nearest to her, Clarke dropped onto it. "Yeah, no it's fine, it's late. I just want to eat then sleep for a week." She replied whilst she rubbed her hands across her tired face.

"Food I can help with." Lexa smiled at her kindly from where she was still standing. Before Clarke could say anything, she was ducking out of the tent again.

Even through the thick fabric of the tent, Clarke could hear the gentle thrum of the camp life around her. There was deep laughter in the distance, and Clarke smiled at the sound of it. It had been a long time since she had heard her own laugh. She wondered if her voice was still capable of making the sound.

Before her thoughts could drift too far, Lexa was walking back through the tent flap with two cups in her hands.

"Here," The woman said as she handed her the cup before retreating to sit on her own bed. "One of the hunting parties caught a boar, it will be with us shortly."

Even in the low light of the candles, Clarke could see the slight purple twinge to the fluid in her cup. "What is this?"

"We make it from the fruit that grows south of here. It goes well with the meat." Lexa explained, and Clarke cautiously took a sip. "You seemed upset after talking to the boy."

It wasn't a question, but Clarke nodded her head regardless. "They're upset that I left Camp Jaha after the Mountain. They think I abandoned them." She revealed, only giving Lexa half the truth.

"You did." Clarke looked away from the brunette. She had expected Lexa's support, maybe for her to tell her Bellamy was wrong and that she hadn't abandoned her people, not agree with him.


Lexa took a sip out of her own cup before setting it down to start unfastening her shoulder guard. "You were their leader and you walked away from them."

Clarke's feet lightly scuffed at the floor. She looked away from the sight of Lexa removing her guard to watch her own feet instead. She didn't say anything more, a sadness washing over her that Lexa felt the same way as her people. Everyone seemed to agree that she made the wrong choice leaving and Clarke had wanted just one person to tell her it was okay.

Lost in her thoughts, Clarke hadn't realised Lexa had moved from her bed until she was kneeling in front of her. Green eyes looked up at her, and Clarke couldn't help remembering the night Lexa had knelt before her and sworn fealty to her.

"It was selfish act, but after being selfless for so long it was a selfish act you deserved." Lexa comforted softly. Reaching out, she took Clarke's cup from her before holding her hands gently in hers. "I do not blame you for wanting to leave, Clarke."

Clarke's shoulders sagged, and she stared down at their intertwined hands. Lexa gently rubbed her thumbs across her knuckles.

"Have you ever wanted to leave for a while?" Clarke asked quietly. "To just walk away from all your responsibility?"

"Yes." Lexa admitted instantly. Clarke could only imagine what it must have been like for the woman after Costia's death, to not have any time to mourn, to not have any time to not be the Commander of the twelve clans. Blinking back the emotion in her eyes, Lexa let go of her hands. "Would you have returned to your people on your own?"

Lexa handed her drink back, and Clarke took a sip whilst she thought about her answer. "I don't know. I wasn't ready to when Anya found me. I just wanted to be left alone." Clarke confessed, gently swirling the contents of her cup. "Maybe one day I would have gone back."

Lexa stayed on her knees before her, and Clarke reached down to hold onto one of her hands again, desperate to feel the human contact. "Would you have sent Anya to find me eventually anyway?"

"No." Lexa replied. Clarke furrowed her brow at the confession. "I knew you did not want to be found, least of all by me. I would sometimes receive reports of your whereabouts, and as long as you remained relatively safe I would have left you be."

"And with the Ice Nation looking for me I was no longer safe..." Clarke trailed off before swallowing more of the slightly bitter drink. "I- Thank you." She said, her hand squeezing at Lexa's. "I was angry, I am angry, but I know if Nia had captured me I would be dead."

"You would have survived." Lexa said confidently. "You would have found a way."

"How can you be so sure?" Clarke asked, her brow furrowing again.

"Because... You're you, Clarke."

Chapter Text

 “You did this.”

Clarke gasped as the hood was pulled from her face.

The rain was pounding against her, the downpour soaking her clothes through to the skin. Her whole body shivered at the freezing droplets stinging against face. The crowd around her was jeering, and she tried desperately to pull herself free from the restraints that were pinning her hands behind her back.

“Let me go!” Clarke cried, her feet digging into the slippery mud. Frantically, she tried to gain enough traction to slow her progress.

She didn't even see the stage approaching and the air rushed out of her lungs when she was suddenly thrown onto it. Clarke tried to pull in a breath of air, but strong hands were pulling her up onto her knees before she had the chance.

Thunder crashed in the sky above her and she tried to blink the rain out of her eyes.

The whole of Arkadia was in front of her. All of them watching her. Squinting her eyes through the downpour, she could see Pike standing in the centre of the platform.

“We are gathered here today because we've been betrayed.” Pike boomed from beside her. “Because one of our own has risked the lives of the good people of Arkadia.” The people in front of the stage all booed, and Clarke could almost feel the sound echoing in her chest. “And I won't stand for it.”

This time the crowd cheered, their hollering rising in volume. Clarke could see the beaming smile on Pike's face as they began to chant his name. “But first lets do away with the blight on this land. She calls herself the Commander-” It was then that Clarke saw another person sharing the platform with her. She recognised the posture, the delicate profile, the wild hair.

“Lexa!” Clarke called, but the other woman stayed resolute and as the crowd began to chant for her death, Lexa just raised her chin to them.

The back of Pike's hand slapped across Lexa's face and it was only when the brunette spat out a wad of dark blood that Clarke realised there was a gun in in the man's hand. “I call her a savage!”

“Lexa!!” Clarke struggled, the rope biting into her skin, her knees scrapping painfully on the platform. “Let her go! Let her- Lexa!”

She watched, horrified as Pike flicked the safety off the weapon and pointed it at against the side of Lexa's head. With her whole body straining, Clarke thrashed against her bindings.

Everything seemed to stop, the rain pausing and the roar of the crowd disappearing as Lexa turned towards her.

“Do not be afraid, Clarke.” Lexa whispered.

The gunshot rung out and Clarke screamed at the sight of Lexa's head snapping back.


Frantic green eyes were the first thing Clarke saw.

She gasped, her body jolting upright. Before her mind could quite comprehend what she was doing, Clarke's hands were dragging through Lexa's hair. The next moment her fingers were pressing against the smooth skin of Lexa's forehead, her eyes studying every part of the other woman's face, desperately looking for the bullet wound Pike had just inflicted on her.

“Clarke, it's okay. You're safe.” Long fingers wrapped around her wrists, and Clarke inhaled harshly, fighting to get enough oxygen into her body.

“You- He-” Clarke tried to say, her lungs beginning to burn. “There was nothing I could do-”

“Clarke. You need to breathe.”

She tried to follow Lexa's instruction, but all she managed was a wheeze in her throat. “I can't- I-”

“Through your nose.” Lexa instructed, and Clarke wasn't sure when the other woman's hands had moved, but she felt them squeezing at her shoulders. “Come on, in, one, two, three. Now out...”

Clarke focused on the sound of Lexa's voice, breathing heavily through her nose at her prompting. She could just hear the tiny pitter patter of rain on the tent above her, nothing close to the deluge in her dream. She felt her body tense at the memory and Lexa started to rub soothingly at her arms.

“Close your eyes. Think of somewhere safe.” Lexa told her calmly before starting her counting again.

With her eyes closed and the ache in her chest finally easing, Clarke imagined she was back in Polis. That she was back in her room. That she was back in the warmth of the furs in her bed.

Eventually Lexa stopped her counting, but Clarke kept her eyes shut regardless as her breathing finally started to slow on its own.

“I'm sorry, Clarke.” Opening her eyes, the blonde stared into the worried green that looked straight back at her. “Anya told me you woke from a nightmare, I didn't realise-”

“It's fine, Lexa.” Clarke quickly interrupted, embarrassment tingeing her cheeks pink. “I'll be fine.”

“How long?” Lexa question suddenly. Clarke creased her brow, her sleep addled mind not quite understanding. “How long have you been having the nightmares?”

Clarke swallowed harshly, her eyes darting away from the other woman's in shame. “Since Mount Weather.”

Lexa hummed, dropping her hands away from Clarke's shoulder. She almost whimpered at the loss of her comforting touch.

“What happened in your dream?” Lexa questioned, but Clarke didn't want to answer. She wanted to forget and bury the memory away with all the others. “Clarke?”

With a shaky breath, the increasingly anxious woman looked back up to Lexa again. “Pike, he had us up on a platform, and everyone from the Ark was there, and they were just watching." Clarke swallowed back the lump in her throat. "He shot you in the head, Lexa.”

“No he didn't-”

“I saw it happen!” Clarke snapped back. She didn't need Lexa telling her what had and hadn't happened in her dream. Clarke had seen it happen.

“Clarke, listen to me,” Lexa carried on regardless, her hands squeezing at her arms again. “It didn't. Because you stopped him. You rushed him, and the gun fell out of his hand. Then you and I, we escaped.”

Clarke shook her head in confusion. “That's not-”

“Yes it is. You saved me. And I was okay.” The defiance in the other woman's voice was unmissable. “Tell me, Clarke, tell me again what happened?”

“Pike was about to shot you...” She started, unsure of what the brunette wanted to hear.


Swallowing, Clarke thought about her dream, about what could have happened instead.

“And I broke out of my bindings.” She began, her hands unconsciously rubbing at her wrists. “Then we struggled, but I managed to get the gun away.” She imagined it as she said it, she imagined grabbing onto Pike's gun and slamming into him with her shoulder. It would have caught him off guard, Clarke was sure of it. She could clearly see him sprawling down into the crowd.

“What happened next?” Lexa prompted at Clarke's continued silence.

“We escaped, both of us were okay.” She practically whispered, thinking about how she would have dragged Lexa to her feet and fled off the back of the stage. “We were okay.”

“Lay down.” Lexa gently ordered her. Biting at her lip, Clarke nervously lay back in the bed. She was exhausted, the come down from her panic attack draining out all her energy. “Go back to sleep, Clarke. I'll be right here.”

It was the gentle sound of the rain on tent, and the warmth of Lexa's body sitting beside her that eventually lulled Clarke back to sleep. She was sure, in those last moment between waking and slumber, that she felt long fingers brushing through her hair.

 Clarke nuzzled her face into the pillow under her head. Her body knew it was still early, but when she slowly blinked open her eyes, she could see the warm glow of light coming from the sun outside.

“How are you feeling?” Lexa asked, and Clarke's body jerked slightly when she realised the other woman was still in the tent with her.

“Better.” She replied slowly, rolling onto her back so she could rub her hands across her eyes. “I'm sorry for waking you last night.”

“There's nothing to apologise for.” Lexa said as she pulled her long coat on. “Did it help?”

“Changing the ending of the dream?” Clarke asked and Lexa nodded her head. “I don't usually sleep afterwards.”

The other woman nodded again, apparently satisfied with her answer and continued clipping her coat together.

Swinging her legs out of the bed, Clarke slipped her bare feet into the boots that were still sat besides her bed. There was a small bowl of water sitting on the floor, and Clarke lifted it onto her lap so she could wash the sleep from her face. There had been a similar bowl there the night before. Lexa had given her the privacy after their meal to wash herself quickly before bed. It hadn't been much, but it had at least wiped the sweat from their long day of travelling away.

“Anya taught me to do the same.” Lexa finally informed her once the last catch of her coat locked into place.

“You used to get nightmares?” Clarke asked curiously, frowning when she caught sight of a sad smile flashing across Lexa's face.

“I still do.”

Drying her face on the cloth that had been sitting underneath the bowl, Clarke reached her body across the bed to pick up her own coat. “What do you dream about?”

There was a distant look on Lexa's face, and the brunette paused for a moment. “Things I cannot change.” Lexa said distractedly. “I'll join you in a moment.”

Clarke understood the dismissal and she pulled on her coat before making her way out the tent.

The harsh light of the morning made Clarke squint her eyes. The camp was already bustling with life and she took the time to watch as the men and women who had been sent to protect her people began their day. The blonde's neck was sore, probably from the odd angle she had fallen asleep in after her nightmare. It took a few moments of her trying to rub the kink out of the aching muscle for her to realise Octavia was sitting beside the tent.

“Hi.” Clarke greeted, unsure of what to make of the girl's scowling expression.

“Why should I not be surprised.” Octavia said, her eyes rolling.

“Octavia-” Clarke began, but the flap of the tent behind her rustled open and Octavia's whole body visibly tensed.

“Go back to Arkadia.” Lexa's stern voice commanded.

Octavia was instantly on her feet. “Commander-”

“Now.” There was no room for argument, and Octavia looked completely defeated as she turned away.

Clarke felt her jaw tense. After Lexa had let her handle her mother and Kane alone the previous day, she hadn't expected the brunette to step in so harshly.

“I was handling it.” She told the visibly irritated woman.

“If she wants to be Indra's second she will need to learn respect.” Lexa replied, and Clarke could tell from the set of her jaw that there was no point trying to argue about it with her. “I'll send a rider to collect you this afternoon.” Lexa didn't wait for her reply before she was making her way towards the tents of her army.

It didn't take Clarke long to find Octavia again. Slowly, she walked towards where the younger woman was slowly patting her hand down her horses neck. Clarke's own horse was standing beside it, and she gently ran her hand over its muzzle.

“You need to be more careful.” Clarke warned.

“What, you want me to forget the time you let a bomb drop on me? Well I haven't.”

Clarke quickly looked around, her eyes frantically scanning the area for anyone who might have overheard. “Can you not? I'm not going to argue about this with you, Octavia.”

The young brunette scoffed, ducking her head under the neck of her horse so she could face Clarke. “Running away as usual then.”

“No, I'm not going to argue with someone who clearly doesn't understand the first thing about strategy.” Clarke hissed.

Octavia scoffed at her again. “Like you're the expert.”

“So what would you have done? Told everyone about the bomb?” Clarke asked, drawing closer to the girl. “Then they would have known there was a spy.”

“You can't know that.” Octavia challenged.

“I know they weren't stupid, Octavia. It wouldn't have taken a genius to figure out we had someone on the inside. You think it was easy for me to decide that?”

“Wasn't it?” She asked and Clarke stepped back slightly. There was fire in Octavia eyes, and Clarke realised that the girl truly believed it was easy for her. “Come on, with how many people you've killed?”

Clarke pulled harshly at her horses stirrup, making the animal pull away from her. “It never gets easier. I don't know what's got you so pissed, Octavia, but deal with it before Lexa has you demoted from being Indra's second for good.” Without looking at her, Clarke pulled herself up onto her horse. “I'll see you at Arkadia.”

 The sight of Arkadia's gates had adrenaline pumping through Clarke's body again. Just like the day before, she had to fight the urge to turn her horse back.

Shouts called out from behind the walls and a moment later, the gates slowly started to lurch open.

It was impossible not to smile when they fully opened.

Everyone from the dropship was waiting for her on the other side.

Dismounting her horse, Clarke handed the reins to one of the guards, quickly thanking him as he led her horse towards the stables.

It was Monroe that embraced her first. “Man, Griffin, you sure know how to disappear.”

The others greeted her in a similar manner, and Clarke was glad she decided not to flee back into the woods. Anya had been right, being among her people did feel good.

“Clarke.” Monty smiled at her last. Clarke beamed right back before he wrapped his arms around her. “I heard you were coming back today. Welcome home.”

“Monty...” She whispered, unsure of what to say to the boy as he tightened his grip on her. The rest of the group were slowly making their way back towards the Ark when Monty finally pulled away. Clarke creased her brow slightly when she saw the scowl that was on the boys face. "Monty?"

“Great, the war hero's back." Twisting around Clarke almost gasped at the haggard form of Jasper as he stumbled towards them. "I wonder which of us is going to die now.”

Monty stepped between them, pushing at Jasper's chest before he stumbled too close. “Hey, Monty, best not tell her you mom's here or she'll get her killed too.”

“That's enough, Jasper.” The usually quiet boy seethed. “Just go sleep it off.”

"Whatever, I'll go write your eulogy now, I doubt you'll last the day." He slurred, and Clarke watched on worriedly when he stumbled towards the Ark.

“Has he been drinking?” She left the 'already' unsaid.

“Yeah, Jasper's-” The expression of sadness on Monty's face was unmissable. “He's not been doing so great after Mount Weather.”

“Maya.” Clarke guessed, remembering the look of complete devastation on Jasper's face when she found him cradling the dead girl in his arms.

Monty nodded and Clarke felt the guilt beginning to swirl in her stomach.

“He blames us.” He informed her.

“You?” Clarke asked, confused as to why Jasper would be blaming Monty of all people for what had happened.


Clarke could feel the crease in her brow. “But you weren't there?” She said, trying to understand exactly what it was Monty had done. The blonde knew she had said the wrong thing with how worried Monty suddenly looked.

“I hacked into the system. I was in the room with you, Clarke.”

Panic started to choke her. Memories that she had fought so hard to forget were threatening to rise to the surface.

My sister. My responsibility.”

I have to save them.”

The voices echoed in her head and Clarke could almost feel the warmth of Bellamy's hand on her own. Ready to pull the leaver, ready to-

“Clarke are you alright?” Monty's voice pulled her out of the memory before she could let it consume her complete.

“Yeah, yeah of course.” Clarke said, trying to smile as reassuringly as possible despite the lump that was stuck in her throat. “Was he telling the truth about your mom?”

Monty scratched at the back of his neck and gave a muted smile. “Yeah. ”

She thought the boy would have been ecstatic, she knew how close he had been to his mother. “What's wrong? I thought you'd be pleased.”

“No- I am, I mean it's my mom. It's just...” Licking at his lips, Monty looked away from her. “She on Pike's side.”

Clarke shifted uncomfortably. “Oh.”

“She thinks we should be killing the Grounders.” He said sadly.

Clarke hoped she knew Monty well enough to know the answer to her next question. “And you?”

“They're not all the same though right? I mean, Lincoln's here? He's helping...” Monty tapered off. “The Commander's helping.”

She nodded. “But your mom doesn't see it that way?”

“She thinks they're luring us into a trap.” There was a distant look in his eyes, and after a few moments he looked down at the ground. "I think she's lying about what happened at the farm station. I think she's lying about how my dad died."

Monty had never told her why he thought his mom was lying, and Clarke had watched helplessly as the boy had practically run back into the Ark to apparently check on Jasper. She was still preoccupied with thoughts of their conversation when she walked into the mess hall.

Her mom and Kane were sitting on the far side playfully arguing, and Clarke smiled at the sight of them sitting closer than necessary whilst they fought. Her mom would never talk to Clarke about it, and the blonde was sure she would probably avoid progressing anything with Kane altogether out of respect for Clarke's dad.

Her mom deserved to be happy though.

“Clarke!” Her mother greeted when she saw her daughter approaching, and Clarke melted into her arms again. Before she had left the night before her mom had spent almost half an hour trying to convince her to stay. It had taken Kane's gently persuasion to eventually let her go. Clarke was glad that he seemed to understand her reluctance at staying within the walls of Arkadia.

Kane looked almost smug when Clarke sat down and she watched curiously as her mom lightly tapped his arm. “Stop it.”

“Your mom didn't think you were coming back. I assured her you would be.” Kane said before cutting into what looked like a tomato. It wasn't anything like the tomatoes they had grown on the Ark though, and Clarke stared at the unripened green that wrapped around it in patches.

“It's tomato,” her mom confirmed. “Indra gave us some seeds.”

“Mmmm,” Kane hummed around his mouthful. “Try some.” Waving his hand in the air, Clarke turned to see Harper approaching her, a plate of food in her hand. She hadn't been outside with the others and Clarke smiled warmly at her.

“Welcome home, Clarke.” The other girl whispered into her ear as she placed the plate in front of her.

Clarke bit into a piece of the grilled fruit. She couldn't contain the almost sinful moan that tore from her throat. It was sweet. Sweeter than any tomato she had been allowed to taste from the farm station. “It's so sweet.”

“They never used to be red, not completely, on the Ark we bred them to keep in uniform. Took away half the flavour.” Kane informed her.

It was like the flood gates had opened. Immediately, Clarke started to regale him with tales of the food she had tried in Polis. It was only when she tried to include her mom back into the conversation that she caught sight of the tears in her eyes.

“What?” Clarke asked worriedly.

“You're both talking about food.” A smile pulled across her mother's face and she shook her head. “I didn't think I'd ever here you talk about anything so... Mundane again.”

 “Shouldn't Wick be helping you with that?” Clarke asked from the doorway of Raven's workshop as the woman pulled a box full of cables off one of the shelving units.

“Wick's gone, which you would have known if you bothered to stick around.” Clarke's eyes widened, and she was confused when Raven rolled her eyes in response. “He's not dead, Clarke, I meant he's gone off to live at one of the repeater stations.”

“Repeater stations?”

“What? Did you think it was magic that your radio worked in Polis?” Raven brushed past her, dropping the box of wires onto the table. “Did you even take basic physics?”

“Mom told me you stopped the Grounders for being poisoned-”

“Yeah, Bellamy isn't exactly subtle, I thought he was going to chew his own lip off whilst he was staring at the thing...”

Clarke looked at the ground before slowly approaching the table to stand next to the other woman. “Still, thank you.” She said, trying to get Raven to look at her.

Raven just turned away again though, her hands digging through the box in front of her.

“Right.” Clarke wasn't sure what to say at Raven's continued disinterest in her presence. “It was good to see you, Raven.”

Blinking back the sheen of tears in her eyes, Clarke ducked her head as she turned back towards the hall way.

“Wait- Clarke.” Raven called.

The blonde whipped back around to see brown eyes staring at her regretfully. Slowly, Raven shuffled forwards. “Where did you go?”

“I don't- I'm not really sure.” It was the truth. For the longest time Clarke had wandered the woods with no real direction other that “away”. “I think I ended up in the Ice Nation for a while.”

Raven nodded, her hands fiddling with the cable she had pulled out the box. “Are you okay at least?”

“Yeah, I'm fine.” Clarke replied automatically.

“No you're not.” Raven dropped the wire in her hands, and Clarke barely had time to brace herself before the other woman's arms were wrapping around her.

Slowly the blonde let her own arms come up around Raven's back. She smelt of machinery grease, and Clarke couldn't help breathing in the familiar scent that used to cling to her father.

“We searched for you.” Raven said quietly as her arms loosened their grip. “The whole three months you were gone.”

“I'm sorry-”

Raven was already shaking her head and pulling away from her. “Hey, I get it, I would have run away too, except, you know, I can't actually run any more.”

Clarke frowned, her mom had told her about her worries for Raven. She had been lying to her about her leg, at least her mom suspected she had been. “How is your leg? My mom said-”

“Your mom's put me on Jaha watch.” Clarke knew Raven was trying to distract her away from the question, but she couldn't help taking the bait.

“Jaha's back?”

“Sort of... To be honest he's away with the faeries most the time. I think the ground's kinda got to him. He's locked himself away in the old server room, keeps muttering about an update, because he likes to speak himself now, a lot.” Picking up the cable she had discarded earlier, Raven started to limp towards the door. “You know, the standard crazy stuff.”

Clarke followed after her as she walked out the workshop, her brace squeaking loudly. "God, I need to grease this thing up, the noise is driving me mad."

"Hey wait, Raven." Clarke pulled at her arm lightly, forcing the girl to stop. "That's it? You're not pissed at me for leaving?"

"Oh no, I'm pissed, but it's not like you were having fun out there in woods is it?"

Clarke smiled slightly. "I did kill a puma whilst I was out there."

"Okay, now I'm pissed." Raven smiled back, before nudging her arm. "Come on, I'll show you the crazy that is now Thelonious Jaha. I heard you've been living in the Grounder capital.” Clarke nodded her head. “How's that working out for you?”

“Good, I think. I have hand maidens.” Clarke joked lightly and she smiled at the boisterous laugh Raven let out.

“Fancy.” The other woman smiled.

Clarke hummed. “Perks of being an ambassador.”

“How's that working out for you?” Raven asked, her eyebrow rising.

Clarke thought about her answer for a moment. “It keeps my mind off things... You should come visit.”

Raven's face hardened and Clarke instantly realised her mistake. “With Lexa there? I- I'm not sure I'm ready for that yet, Clarke.”

She almost kicked herself for suggesting it because of course Raven wouldn't want to go there. Of course she wouldn't want to see the woman that had ordered her to be tied to a tree and cut to death. Of course Raven wouldn't want to be near the woman that demanded Finn's death. It had been just over three months since Clarke had killed Finn. Since she'd felt his warm sticky blood on her hands-

Clarke felt her heart pound, and she breathed in sharply through her nose as the walls of the corridor started to shrink around her.

“He's in here.” Raven said cheerfully before she swung open the door to what Clarke assumed was the server room.

Jaha was sat at a desk in the middle of the room, his eyes shut and his hands flat upon the desk. Slowly, Clarke walked in, waiting for him to acknowledge their presence. It looked like he was meditating and the blonde wasn't sure if they were intruding.

Raven made up her mind for her, slamming her hand against the table in front of him. “Hey, Jaha.”

Instead of jumping like Clarke expected, his eyes opened calmly. “Raven, welcome back.”

“Right, well I got your cable, let me just...” Raven trailed off as she ducked her head behind one of the desks.

The empty look in Jaha's eyes as he looked towards Clarke sent a shiver down her spine. “Who's this?” Jaha asked.

Her breath completely left her lungs. It was impossible. There was no way he could possibly mean it, and Clarke waited for him to smile, for him to in some way acknowledge the joke he had clearly made. Jaha's eyes remained blank though.

“Clarke? Clarke Griffin? Your sons girlfriend, best friend, I don't know.” Raven rattled off whilst she leant over the other side of the table to hook the cable into the back of the unit.

“I was Wells' best friend...” Clarke prompted, waiting for the spark of recognition in his eyes.

He looked to his left, and Clarke creased her brow when he slowly nodded his head. “Of course, my son. Yes. Wells.”

“Oookay,” Raven said as she pulled her head up. “That's enough crazy for one day, give me a call if you need anything else Jaha.”

“I will Miss Reyes, thank you.” He said quietly before his still empty eyes looked back at Clarke again. “And thank you too. Clarke.”

When the door closed behind them again, Clarke was sure she could hear Jaha's voice. He was having a conversation.

“He didn't remember who Wells was.” Clarke said, and Raven shrugged her shoulders.

“Crazy right? Personally I wanna know what's in that backpack he always has with him. I bet it's something extra creepy. Probably a collection of dolls head.”

 “I had Wick and Bellamy running the cables in the rain, you should have seen their faces.” Raven explained, smiling widely as she showed Clarke how she had set up the new solar panels. They had started out walking around the site, but for the past ten minutes Raven had been leaning heavily with her hand on a low wall whilst she pointed everything out from the same spot.

“Are you sure your leg's okay?” Clarke asked, when Raven once again shifted more weight onto her good foot.

“What? Totally, I wouldn't be standing out here if it wasn't.”

“You're not standing, Raven.”

The other woman indicated down to her legs with her free hand. “Yeah I am.”

“Then take your hand off the wall.” Clarke instructed, and she wasn't surprised when Raven didn't make a move.

With a flush on her cheeks, the brunette looked away from her. “What do you want me to say, Clarke?”

“I want you to say what's really happening.” She pushed.

Raven let out a heavy sigh before shifting to sit down on the wall. “It's been getting worse. The pain.”

Squatting down in front of her, Clarke took Raven's hands in her own. “Why haven't you told my mom Raven? She could-”

“Because she had enough to worry about with you missing.” She suddenly snapped back. Clarke looked away, guilt washing over her. “I'm sorry-”

“No, it's fine.” The blonde interrupted. It wasn't her fault that Raven hadn't told her mom she was getting worse. But it was something that might have been different if she had stayed in Camp Jaha. “Speak to Lincoln, ask him if he can bring Nyko here.”

Raven's brow creased slightly. “The healer guy?”

“These people live on the ground, there's no way they haven't found a natural pain killer.” Clarke explained, her hands gently squeezing the other woman's.

“That's not going to make it go away.”

“No,” Clarke agreed because she knew even with the resources they had at Arkadia there was nothing they could do to heal Raven. There were things they could do to make her more comfortable though. “But it might help.”

The sound of the guards shouting had Clarke looking up, and both her and Raven watched in silence as the gate slowly started to creak open. She didn't think much of it until she saw Lexa walking through them.

The guards pointed in her direction and Clarke tensed up when the Commander started to stride towards her. Raven was with her. The same Raven who's boyfriend she had demanded the death of. The same Raven she had tied to a tree and had tortured.

Letting go of Raven's hands, Clarke quickly rose to her feet. “Lexa?”

“Clarke.” Shifting her eyes, Lexa nodded her head once at Raven. “Raven. You are doing well?”

Raven crossed her arms over her chest in defiance. “Well I'm not tied to a tree with your knife cutting me open.”

Lexa only raised her eyebrow. “Clearly.”

Before Raven could possibly insult the Commander of the thirteen clans, Clare quickly stepped in. “What are you doing here?”

Breaking the silent stare off she had started with Raven, Lexa looked back to her. “It's the Ice Nation, where's the Chancellor?”

“Inside... Raven are you okay here?” Clarke didn't want to leave her, not when they had just started to make progress, but she knew Lexa wouldn't be in Arkadia again unless it was important.

“Yeah, it's fine, go.” Raven said, smiling tightly. “Go do your thing.”

Clarke almost could feel the tension rolling off Lexa as they walked together.

“Is it the Ice Nation?” The blonde blurted out, as they passed through the doorway.

“Yes.” Lexa replied. “Everything will be fine, Clarke.” She tried to reassure her, but it did little to quell the anxiety that had started to swirl in her stomach again.

The rest of the walk was in silence, and by the time they approached the room they had met in the day before, Clarke could feel the slight tang of blood on her tongue. Swiping it over her lip, she realised during their walk she had manage to break through the skin.

Clarke rapped her knuckles on the hard metal door and waited. It was a few moments later that her mom pulled the door open. She looked stressed and for the first time Clarke noticed the dark circles under her eyes. She also looked shocked, her eyes darting between herself and Lexa for a moment. “Clarke, Commander, come in.”

As the door opened Clarke looked around the room. Kane was standing on the other side of the table and so was Bellamy. From the discarded guards jacket in the centre of the room, Clarke knew either Bellamy was trying to resign or Kane had just told him he was no longer part of the guard. She suspected it was the former. She already knew Kane was planning to separate the man from Pike. He wouldn't risk the progress Clarke had made with Bellamy the day before going to waste.

“I apologise for interrupting, Chancellor.” The Commander said formally.

“I'll-” Bellamy began, but Kane quickly cut across him.

“No, Bellamy, stay.” So it was Bellamy trying to resign Clarke quickly concluded.

With her hands behind her back, Lexa approached the table. “Indra's scouts retuned this morning. The Ice Nations army has moved from the border.” It was good news, but that wasn't the type of news that would have had Lexa riding Arkadia. Clarke held her breath as the woman continued. “Last night another two hundred warriors joined their ranks.”

Clarke creased her brow. Roan should have returned to Azgeda. He was on their side, Clarke was sure of it, there was no reason for him to be increasing the size of his army.

It was her mom who broke the silence. “What does that mean?”

“Either Roan's betrayed us...” Clarke muttered her thoughts out loud.

“Or he never reached Azgeda.” Lexa finished for her.

“Wait, wait, before we send out our own army, he must have only just got there right?” Her mom asked, and Lexa nodded. “Maybe he just has other things to sort out first, maybe those extra men were already on their way.”

It was too hopefully. Clarke already suspected the worst. The Ice Queen did have a back up plan in the case of her capture.

“We can't wait to find out which one of those is true.” Bellamy replied firmly.

Kane nodded in agreement. “I agree, we have to find out what they're planning.”

“Let me go.” Bellamy offered gruffly, his arms crossing over his chest.

Her mom was already shaking her head. “No, absolutely not.”

“Abby, I can do this, I've already done this.”

Clarke almost rolled her eyes. “And when they speak to you?” She asked, slipping into Trigedasleng effortlessly.

Bellamy looked at her in confusion. “What?”

“Exactly.” Kane replied. “This isn't like Mount Weather, Bellamy. You'd need to learn a whole new language, a whole new culture, it could take you months to be ready.”

“We don't have months!” Bellamy stated angrily, and Clarke wasn't sure she would send him even if he did know the Grounders language. He was still itching to fight. Itching to find someone tangible to take his anger out on for what had happened at Mount Weather.

There was someone in the room who did know Trigedasleng though. Someone who understood the Grounders culture enough to be able to slip into the group unnoticed. Clarke was about to step forwards and suggest herself when she noticed the smirk pulling at the corners of Lexa's mouth.

“What?” She asked the woman.

“I have my own spies in Azgeda already.” The Commander stated simply.

If it had been any other situation, Clarke might have laughed. They were so used to fending for themselves that somehow even Clarke had forgotten the Commander had her own resources. That the coalition had its own resources.

They weren't alone any more.

It was her mom who spoke first, her eyes looking at Lexa questioningly. “If you have your own spies, what's the problem?”

“My army will not be leaving their post outside Arkadia, and if the threat of the Ice Nation continues more will be joining them.” Lexa paused, and Clarke knew she wasn't finished. “On my return to Polis I will be arranging for another army to station themselves closer to to the capital.”

“Another army?” Bellamy asked with a clear spike of anger in his voice. “You can't. Pike will never allow it. His supporters will never allow it.”

“I don't answer to Pike or to you, boy.” The Commander snarled. Clarke had to stop herself from reaching out to pull Lexa back from the table.

Kane gently pushed at Bellamy until he stepped back. “We understand, Commander.” Kane said, trying to calm the tense atmosphere that had suddenly descended on the room. “Our people will come to understand that this is for our own protection.”

“Clarke, you agree with this?” Bellamy asked, but Clarke knew what he was really asking. It wasn't about whether she agreed with Lexa's decision, it was about whether she trusted it.

“Yes.” She replied, nodding at Lexa as the woman looked at her over her shoulder. “How long are you going to hold Pike for?”

“We can't hold him in that cell forever.” Kane sighed.

Her mom rubbed her hand over her hair, and once again Clarke could see the exhaustion showing clearly on her face. “We don't have to hold him forever. We just need to hold him until this passes and we prove that he was wrong.”

Lexa's voice suddenly turned threatening once more, and Clarke couldn't help the shiver of fear that went down her spine. “I will not tolerate any more attempts on the lives of my people, Chancellor.”

“Of course, Commander.” Kane quickly answered as the room once again drowned in tension.

“When do you leave?” Her mom smiled, and Clarke knew she was just trying to defuse the stare off that had started between Lexa and Bellamy.

Clarke looked towards Lexa, waiting until she turned to face her slightly. Now the woman was here she assumed they would be leaving shortly. “Soon?”

“We still have time for you to say goodbye.” Lexa answered.

Clarke eyes dipped to the black scrape along Lexa's jaw. “Actually, there was something else I wanted to do.”

 Clarke felt Lexa's arm tense as she started to push the needle into her arm. “It won't take long.”

Her mom passed her the glass vial to capture the blood, and Clarke quickly pushed the tube that dangled off it into place. There was a gasp from next to her, and she knew her mom must have been staring at the dark liquid that was flowing from Lexa.

“It's black.” Her mom said, the sound of astonishment clear in her voice. “That's impossible.”

“We thought life on earth was impossible.” Clarke muttered absentmindedly, concentrating on pulling the now full vial of blood away from Lexa's arm.

She handed it to her mom, and watched as she held it up to the light. “Is it genetic?”

Clarke shook her head, ready to answer on Lexa's behalf, because there was no way the Grounders would know anything about genetics any more. So it was surprising then when Lexa answered regardless. “My mothers sister was a Nightblood, as was her father.”

“Is it just your family?” Her mom asked whilst she continued to twirl the vial in her hand.

“Within the Trikru, yes.” Lexa answered simply.

Still captivated by the blood, her mom nodded her head. “But there are others?”

“In some of the other clans.”

“What are you thinking?” Clarke asked her mother when she finally put the vial onto the counter.

“Radiation perhaps. I'll know more once I've run some tests on it.” Looking down, her mom studied the skin that had just been pierced. “It has an advanced rate of congealment too.” She commented.

Rolling up her own sleeve, Clarke quickly dabbed the area around her vein with the alcohol.

“Can you see if my bloods compatible with it?” Lexa looked at her confused as she pulled her coat back on. “I'm O-neg, if you need a blood transfusion I need to know if my blood will work.” Clarke quickly informed her.

With Lexa almost dying at the hands of Roan, and all her dreams of Lexa being hurt and killed, Clarke needed the reassurance that there was something she could do if the worst happened.

“Here.” Her mom held out the needle, and Clarke slid it into her own arm. The blood filled the glass quickly and the blonde winced when she pulled the needle back out again.

“Ouch.” She whispered at the feel of the metal nicking at her skin.

Before she could even move, Lexa was reaching out to press a piece of cotton to the blood. It was a gesture Clarke found surprisingly expected, and she watched Lexa gently dab at the wound.

“You should probably get going.” Her mom interrupted and Clarke blinked her eyes away from the way Lexa was wiping away the last spots of blood.

“Rhea will be waiting for us.” Lexa agreed, pulling a piece of tape off the table.

Clarke didn't quite understand the warmth that bloomed in her chest when her mom's hand reached down to hold down the swab of cotton for Lexa to tape in place.

As they followed her mom out the room, Lexa paused. Looking up, Clarke saw Jaha walking away from them down the corridor.

“You've already met Jaha right?” Clarke asked.

“Yes...” Lexa trailed off distractedly. “Who is the woman that's with him?”

Clarke creased her brow and looked back towards Jaha, but the man had already gone back inside the old server room. “There was no woman.” Bumping her shoulder into Lexa lightly, she started to follow after her mom again. “I didn't take that much blood Lexa.”

“She looked familiar.” Lexa muttered quietly from behind her.

It was bright outside, and Clarke was glad the rain had finally cleared completely. There was a crowd of people waiting for her by the gate, and she felt surprisingly lighter than she expected at the sight of them.

“I'll meet you outside. Take your time, Clarke.” Lexa said to her quietly as they approached.

It was Bellamy who came to her first, his strong jaw set, and his arms crossed tightly over his chest. “When will you be back?”

“Soon.” She answered softly.

“Will you stay?” Clarke had to look away from him because she still wasn't sure she would ever be able to stay in Arkadia again. “I don't understand, Clarke, we're your people.”

“I just need time, Bellamy.” She tried to explain.

“Don't worry, I'll keep an eye on him for you.” Raven's voice said from behind her, and Clarke opened her arms as the woman quickly hugged her. “Last time I turned my back for two minutes he was off trying to kill people using my glorious engineering.” Bellamy shifted uncomfortably. “Too soon?”

“Yeah, too soon.” He muttered bluntly before walking away from them.

Clarke watched with a frown when he kicked at the ground on his way towards where Octavia was scowling at her. “Go easy on him.” Clarke requested.

“Why? We've all lost people, Clarke. Doesn't mean we all wanted to go on a killer rampage.” Raven scoffed.

As the brooding man came to a stop in front of Octavia, Clarke watched the girl stand up abruptly. Clarke couldn't hear what she shouted over her shoulder, but a second later she was marching away from her brother.

“Actually,” Raven grimaced, “maybe Octavia's got the tough love thing covered.”

“You actually think he would have gone through with it?” Clarke asked, wondering if Raven shared the same opinion as her. Bellamy was angry, with himself, with her, probably with everyone but his sister.

“What killing all those Grounders?” Raven asked, and Clarke nodded. “Nah, I mean look at him, he never really dealt with Mount Weather to begin with. Gina used to talk to him about it, but even she was worried about how detached he was becoming.” Raven paused for a moment and Clarke could see the distant look in her eyes. “You would have liked her.”


“Yeah,” there was a wet sheen to Raven's eyes. “She was cool.”

Clarke felt guilty again. She knew it wasn't her fault, but she couldn't help wondering what might have happened if she hadn't left Camp Jaha. “I'm sorry.”

Raven shrugged at her. “People die Clarke, I've started to get used to it, we all have.” Clarke tilted her head slightly because it wasn't something anyone should be used to.

“Clarke.” Her mom called from behind her.

“I'm going back inside, don't stay away for too long, Clarke. Your mom gets cranky without you.” Raven smiled happily and Clarke squeezed her tightly as she gave her a final hug before hobbling back towards the Ark.

“Here's the charged radio.” Her mom said, handing Clarke the almost powerless device she had brought back from Polis. “Lexa tells me you're leaving in the morning then travelling all day?”

The sore muscles in Clarke's thighs throbbed at the thought of another full day of riding. “Yeah, I'll call in at the same time as usual the next day.” Clarke informed her.

Tears were gathering in her mom's eyes. “Be safe Clarke.” Her mom pled, her hands holding onto her daughter's cheeks as she leant in to kiss her forehead.

“I promise.”

 The ride through the woods was in silence, and Clarke was glad for the time to process everything that had just happened. Being back in Arkadia hadn't been the nightmare scenario she had dreamt it would be. Clarke knew she wasn't ready to return there properly though. She wasn't sure she ever would be. But the idea didn't have her heart pounding through her chest any more.

“We're here.” Lexa announced from beside her.

Clarke's eyes widened in awe at the sight in front of her. The village itself was similar to all the others she had seen, just small huts and houses. It was the the end of the village that had her mouth dropping open.

A cliff face shot up behind the small cluster of huts with a waterfall spilling over the top beside the village. There were small birds flying around the top, and Clarke could just make out the misty rainbow shining above the churning water that must have been at its base. Right through the centre of the village was a path that led to a series of trees that had been twisted over each other to make a tunnel to the hut that was almost against the cliff face.

Slowly, the blonde swung her leg over the horse, her eyes still focused on the scenery in front of her.

“This way, Clarke.” Lexa gently prompted.

When Clarke turned to face her she couldn't help smiling. “It's beautiful here.” She said breathlessly.

“Heda!” The villagers started to greet, and Lexa bowed her head at them as they started to line the main path.

Being inside the tunnel of trees was just as impressive as looking at them from outside.

It must have taken years to grow the trees the way they had been and Clarke brushed her hands along the rough bark, her mind still in a stupor. The cabin at the end of the tunnel was painted with swirling patterns that accumulated into the symbol of the Trikru. Clarke had to stop herself from tracing it with her hand. Despite wanting nothing more than to take in every detail of the paint work, the blonde followed Lexa through the open door and into the brightly lit interior.

Clarke couldn't help marvelling at the huge pane of glass that was the ceiling. The inside was even more impressive than the outside. 

“Heda.” The sound of a woman's voice had Clarke's head snapping back down again.

On the opposite side of the room there was a familiar twisted wooden throne, and Clarke almost gasped.

It wasn't just the throne that looked familiar.

A green eye looked straight at her, studying her. Clarke couldn't help staring right back. A the scar twisted manically across the woman's other one. The socket was empty, not that it mattered with the jagged skin that covered it, but the shade of green of the woman's good eye was one Clarke had seen before.

It was only when Lexa moved to stand beside the woman that the resemblance became striking. Even her wild brown hair that was streaked with patches of grey seemed to fall in the exact same way as Lexa's. “Wanheda. This is Rhea, Head of the Trikru clan.”

“The legendary Wanheda.” Rhea said as she pushed herself up from her throne, her long green cape flowing behind her. “The Commander of Death.” When there was barely any distance left between them, Rhea stopped her approach. “Mountain Slayer.”

The resemblance to Lexa was truly astounding so up close. “I prefer Clarke.” She replied as evenly as possible.

Rhea scoffed before she turned away from her to sit back in her throne. “If you've been bestowed a name of power, you take it, and you use it.”

“I do,” Clarke informed the woman, “but only where it's necessary.”

“Oh? And do you not think it necessary in the house of Rhea kom Trikru?” The scared leader asked.

Clarke could feel the power practically dripping off her every word. And that was exactly what this was Clarke realised. It was a show of power, and the blonde made sure to straighten her stance before responding.

“I don't think it necessary in the house of an ally.”

Rhea turned back to Lexa. “And is this what we are now? Allies with the people who fell from the sky? With the people we should have killed the moment they stepped foot here?”

The Commander nodded once. “If we had the mountain would still be taking our people.”

“Perhaps.” Rhea replied. “The Trikru are grateful to you, Mountain Slayer, you fell the mountain when others had not.”

Clarke wasn't sure if it was a dig at Lexa or not, but she bowed her head slightly regardless.

“Your vote is required in Polis.” Lexa suddenly interrupted, and from the way her jaw subtle ground, Clarke knew she had taken it as an insult at her capability.

Rhea hummed loudly. “Mae alone could have brought me that news.”

“Queen Nia challenged my leadership.” Lexa informed her, but from the woman's lack of reaction Clarke was sure she had already been told news of what had happened in Polis. “As I'm sure you heard, I bested her son Roan. He is now King of Azgeda.”

“Except rumour has it you did not kill the Queen. Is that just rumour Heda?” Rhea questioned.


Before Rhea could question Lexa's decision, Clarke quickly stepped forwards and into the conversation again. “I've asked for her not to be executed.” Clarke informed her. “She will be held by Luna. Living out the rest of her days imprisoned.”

“You would leave her in the hands of a coward?” Rhea snarled at Lexa.

“I trust Luna to keep her word. She would not risk the peace she has always sought.” Lexa stated calmly, but Clarke could see her hands clenching behind her back.

Silence descended on the room and Clarke almost jumped back in surprise when Rhea stood from her throne again.

“Tell me Heda." She said as she walked to the long table at the side of the room. "Have you come here to tell me there is a vote? Or to tell me that Trikru will be voting yes?"

“You would vote against me?” The Commander challenged.

“A Commander's clan defying them?” Rhea scoffed, picking up a piece of fruit from the table. “Trikru will be voting yes, even if it will be your undoing.”

“There's more.”

“I suspected there would be.” The older woman replied dryly before she threw the orange fruit towards Clarke.

“The Ice Nation's army is still close to the border. As of this morning over six hundred have gathered.” Lexa revealed and Clarke's eyes widened at the new information. There was no way Arkadia alone could stand against them, even with the stock piles of guns within the camp.

Rhea picked up another two pieces of fruit, dropping one in Lexa's hand on her way back to her seat. “An all out assault on Polis? Or the Skaikru's home?”

“I do not know, and neither does their army.” Lexa stated firmly. “I need a force gathered between the shallow falls and Polis.”

Rhea hummed loudly and bit down into the food. It was only after she had taken three more bites that she continued. “Even if we include the villagers, we cannot match the Azgeda's numbers man for man. If they cross the border, not even if we take those that are protecting the Skaikru's land can we match them.”

Dread washed over Clarke, and she stared at Lexa. “The armies of the other clans are already being prepared.”

Clarke could already feel her heart rate picking up at the true extent of what Lexa meant when she said an army was going to be posted outside Polis. She doubted her mother or Kane truly appreciated what was about to happen either. Clarke consciously had to stop her hand from squeezing down on the fruit that was in it. This was exactly what she was trying to avoid. This was exactly what she thought they had avoided, but in the space of a day, and completely out of her sight it had fallen apart.

If the Ice Nation's army crossed the border, if Roan truly had betrayed them, then it would all be for nothing.

They would be going to war.

Chapter Text

 “You could have warned me.” Clarke seethed as Lexa followed her back into their shared tent.

The ride back from Rhea's hut had been fraught with underlying tension. The closer they became to the Grounder camp, the more Clarke had to consciously remind herself that she couldn't give into her temper in front of the Commander's guards.

“I didn't think Rhea being my mother was that important, we're hardly family, Clarke.” Lexa replied flatly, her eyes focusing on her wrist guards she was unlacing.

“That too.” The increasingly irate woman bristled.

It was the first time Lexa had actually acknowledged Rhea was her mother. Not that Clarke hadn't managed to deduce that for herself, there was no mistaking the blood they shared. It wasn't just their striking resemblance either. There was something in the way they both held themselves, both of them jutting out their chin whilst they discussed the positioning of the Azgeda army, both of them tucking their hands behind their backs in defiance at each disagreement.

“So you're upset about the Ice Nation.” Lexa sighed and Clarke gritted her teeth.

“Over 600 warriors, Lexa?! Why didn't you tell me? Why didn't you tell my mom? She's the Chancellor of my people!”

Throwing her wrist guard onto the bed, Lexa reeled around to face her. “Because your people are too rash!”

The whole camp around their tent felt like it had dropped into complete silence at the Commander's outburst.

Shaking her head, Clarke looked at the other woman in complete confusion. “What?”

“The second I mentioned the growth of Azgeda's army your people were already planning to invade their lands.” Lexa pointed out, her voice calming back down to a softer level again. “I couldn't risk them starting a war that might not happen. As soon as you left Arkadia your people would have sent a force across the border, and there's no telling how Azgeda would have responded. I gave them enough to not be alarmed when the army here grows, but not enough for their good intentions to endanger us all.”

Clarke could feel her cheeks flushing. Lexa was right. Her people were too used to being isolated. She doubted her mother would ever knowingly put their position in the coalition at risk, but she also knew the people of Arkadia weren't used to being told they couldn't do something.

“You could have told me, Lexa.” She implored sadly.

“I apologise. I was...” The other woman's shoulders seemed to drop in defeat. “Distracted.” She said before throwing her second wrist guard onto the bed behind her.

Clarke had first noticed Lexa's sullen mood that the morning when the woman had dismissed her from their joint tent. In fact, the more she thought about their ride to Rhea's village, the more Clarke realised that maybe Lexa's silence hadn't been for her.

“Rhea?” She quietly guessed and slowly Lexa nodded. “When was the last time you saw her?”

The young Commander's hands started to pull at the catches on her coat. “Before your people fell from the sky.”

The way they greeted each other, the way they left each other. Nothing about it screamed paternal, and if Lexa hadn't been almost the splitting image of Rhea, Clarke might not have even been able to guess they were related.

It struck Clarke then how strange it must have been for Lexa to see her greeting her own mother so openly. That led to another thought that made her heart ache. Clarke wondered if a young Lexa had ever felt the love of her mother or if the first sight of her black blood had her cast out from the family even as a child.

With the catches of her coat open, Lexa sat back on her bed, her hands lacing together in front of her. Clarke wasn't sure why she felt the need to comfort her, but before she could think too much of it her unsteady feet were already walking her towards Lexa's bed. The other woman didn't look up as Clarke sat beside her.

“She looks a lot like you.” Clarke smiled, nudging her knee against Lexa's. “Minus the badass scar.”

Lexa hummed, a small smile twitching at the corner of her lips.

“She got it the day my father died.” The brunette stated evenly.

Immediately, Clarke felt herself pale and she had to look away from Lexa at the feeling of shame that washed over her. She hadn't even thought about the other woman's father, let alone the possibility that he might be dead.

She was surprised to hear a lightness to Lexa's voice when she continued. “He died well, Clarke. He died fighting beside the woman he loved.”

The blonde nodded, her own hands clenching together as she debated whether to sate her curiosity. “What happened?” She eventually asked, her need to know about Lexa's past winning out over her want to be disinterested in it.

“On the previous Commander's ascension day all the nightblood's that had failed their conclave came to Polis. It was a tradition.” Lexa smiled sadly and she seemed to get lost in her own head for a moment. “Rhea and my father came too, it was the first time I'd seen them in almost a year. They had their seconds with them. Anya was my fathers, and Gustus was my mothers.”

Lexa's smile quickly disappeared and watching the other woman carefully, Clarke didn't miss the way her green eyes blinked quickly, or the light wet sheen they suddenly had.

“After the flame had accepted him, he gave his first command.” The brunette hesitated, the memory clearly painful for her be recalling. “He ordered that all the failed natblidas be killed.”

“Your mom's sister.” Clarke quietly guessed and Lexa nodded.

“He believed those that had failed to win their conclave were weak. That they were unworthy of their nightblood. My father died whilst trying to protect her.”

There was a lump in Clarke's throat that was too painful to swallow. “I'm sorry.” She whispered, but the woman beside her shook her head.

“You have nothing to apologise for, Clarke. A lot of people died when he was Commander. Some were bad, most were good. He wanted his nightblood's to be strong, so he killed off the weakness." Lexa paused for a moment, her jaw tensing. “We both stopped at nothing to be the next Commander. We both killed- We let nothing stand in our way.”

Creasing her brow, Clarke leaned her elbows against her legs. “Why did you want to be Commander so badly? After growing up with that, why didn't you leave like Luna did?”

“To protect my people." She answered without hesitation. "Even if it meant sacrificing myself I knew I had to. I couldn't risk the other nightblood's taking us down the same path he had. I had to protect my people. I think it was the flame calling to me.” She quietly added.

Clarke had heard the term more than once now, yet she had no idea what the flame was or if Lexa would even tell her if she questioned her about it.

“Did you know? What you would have to do to become Commander?” Clarke asked instead.

“We all knew from the day of his ascension.” Lexa confirmed.

Clarke felt her heart breaking at the woman's response. She couldn't imagine what it must have been like to grow up knowing one day she would have to kill the people she was growing up with. That she would have to kill her friends.

It wasn't fair.

They were both still so young and the absolute injustice of it all had Clarke's eyes burning.

Reaching out, the blonde let her hand cover one of Lexa's. She wasn't sure why the urge to comfort the other woman was so strong. The churning anger in her stomach was still there, the almost numbing pain at what the Commander had forced her to do still crushed her chest. Yet. Clarke was finding it increasingly difficult to be angry at Lexa any more.

Just like her, the brunette had done what wasn't necessarily right, but what was right for her people.

Suddenly, Lexa was scrunching her eyes shut, her free hand reaching up to rub at her temple.

“Enough...” She whispered making Clarke flinched her hand back. It wasn't quick enough though. Before she could even unwrap her fingers, the blonde found Lexa's calloused palm gripping onto hers again. “Not you. Him.”

Clarke's brow furrowed even further. Lexa's eyes were visibly darting behind her eyelids. “Are you okay?” She asked cautiously.

“Sometimes... He is hard to block out.”

Turning her hand in Lexa's, Clarke squeezed lightly. “He's gone, Lexa. Dead.”

The other woman let out a humourless laugh and Clarke could see the moisture that was still collecting in her eyes when she opened them again. “The spirits of the Commander's live on inside of me, Clarke. I can hear them.” The blonde didn't miss the way Lexa's body lightly shook. “Feel them.”

A horrifying thought crossed her mind and Clarke felt her stomach roll at the implication of the young leader's words. “Lexa, did he- did he ever-”

Lexa's eyes widened, clearly catching onto the implication of Clarke's stuttered attempt at a question.

“No, no it was never- No.” She quickly denied, her head shaking.

Clarke let out a sigh, the tightness she hadn't realised was collecting in her chest releasing. “He hurt you though?”

There was a slight pause before Lexa nodded. “He trained us to know that weakness and disobedience were not acceptable.” This time it was Lexa that lightly nudged her knee. “I'm not sure you would have survived him.”

Clarke quickly caught on to the change in attitude, and she didn't really blame Lexa for wanting to steer the conversation into calmer waters. “Are you saying I'm disobedient?”

“You have many good qualities, Clarke kom Skaikru. Following orders is not one of them.” Lexa said lightly before she pushed herself to her feet. “I think another boar was caught today, I will have some brought to us.”

“Lexa.” Clarke called before she could disappear through the entrance of the tent. “If you could say anything to him, what would it be?”

“What I always tell him. He was a disgrace to the name Heda.”

 “You're awake I see.” Anya's voice muttered from beside her bed.

Clarke let out a groan of pain, her thighs were oppositely aching from the ride back to Polis. The journey had been uneventful, but Clarke could swear they had taken a longer winding route to return to the city. The weather had been better than the journey down at least, and Clarke had been grateful for the warming rays of the sun instead of the misty rain that had stalked them all the way to Arkadia just a couple of days earlier.

Stretching her back, Clarke glared at Anya. “Why are you always watching me sleep.”

“It's watching you sleep or babysitting Ontari.” The woman replied, her fingers skimming down the pages of the book in her hand.

Pushing herself up against the headboard, the sill half asleep woman rubbed against her eyes. “How's she doing?”

“Poorly. Not an hour goes by without her telling me how weak Heda is and how the title of Heda belongs to the Ice Nation.” Anya said flatly, her eyes still focused on the book.

A smile pulled at the corner of Clarke's mouth, she could only imagine how frustrating it was for Anya to be dealing with Ontari's stubbornness everyday. “Still letting Aden hit her in the face then?”

The other woman scoffed lightly. “Still showing her that becoming the Commander takes more than just a misplaced belief that it's owed to you.”

“And that's what you're training her for? To be the next Commander?” Clarke asked, the confusion clear in her voice. The Ice Nation girl was as far away from being suitable for Commander as Clarke could imagine. She couldn't understand why someone so close to Nia would be allowed to train for the position.

Anya nodded. “It is the birth right of every nightblood to be allowed to compete for the title.”

“But what about Nia-”

“It is not for us to decide, Clarke.” Anya warned abruptly, cutting over Clarke before she could finished her question.

Swinging her legs over the side of the bed, the blonde let out another groan at the way her stiff muscles protested against the movement.

“You'll get used to it with practice.” The Grounder in front of her offered with a barely restrained smirk.

Clarke grunted. “Next time I'm walking to Arkadia.”

Anya hummed in response, her eyes back on the book. “I hear you met Rhea.”

“Has she always been so...” Clarke paused for a moment, trying to think of the best way to describe her interactions with Lexa. “Distant with Lexa?”

“Commander's cannot have family ties, it's why they are taken away as infants.” Anya answered, and Clarke frowned because it confirmed her suspicion that Lexa had been taken from her family whilst she was a child. “She had a good childhood, for the most part.”

Clarke could feel the furrow in her brow when she looked at Anya in disbelief. “How? That man beat her and left her in a room with a dead horse for a week.”

“When Palas was Heda things were different. She thought the young nightblood's should be exactly that.” Clarke frowned slightly. “Young.” Anya closed the book in her hands and threw it down on the bed. “When he ascended, Rhea wanted Lexa to be taken away from Polis.”

“Then why didn't she take her?” Clarke questioned.

“Rhea tried, and the Commander took her eye as punishment.” There was a distant look in Anya's eyes and the blonde wondered if her mind was replaying that day.

“I don't understand, if he was so bad, then why did people wait so long to overthrow him?”

This time it was Anya looking at her disbelievingly. “Do I really need to explain the power of fear to you, Wanheda.”

Anya had eventually left Clarke to prepare for her day after eating through the majority of the blonde's breakfast with her. It was only when Clarke was getting dressed that she realised she had no idea what her day was actually going to be.

After the long journey back from Arkadia she assumed Lexa had intended for her to rest for the day, and truthfully Clarke's body was practically begging her to lie down for the next 24 hours. Except the restlessness had started to set in within minutes. Her mom had been oddly uncommunicative on the radio, wrapping up their conversation as quickly as possible, leaving Clarke to lay back on the bed with nothing to do.

There was an army threatening to wipe out her people and a vote looming that she knew was bound to have huge repercussions if it didn't swing the Commander's way. There had to be something she could be doing.

Groaning as her feet met the ground again, Clarke tried her best to stretch out her tightening leg muscles before heading off in search of Lexa. The other woman was bound to be just as restless as she was, and even if there was nothing Clarke could do, she could still listen to what the Commander was planning.

The guards opened up the doors to the throne room for her and Clarke froze when she realised it wasn't Lexa that was in the room.

Titus was standing up on the Commander's platform, with the nightblood's sitting before him. It was only Ontari that was missing from the group. The sullen girl was sat with her back against one of the pillars, her eyes closed as if she was sleeping, but Clarke could see the way she tilted her head slightly at Titus's words.

“Wanheda.” Titus suddenly announced, his voice stiff at her interruption. “If you are looking for Heda then she is not here.”

“Clearly.” Clarke replied, leaning against the doorway regardless.

One of the nightblood's quickly turned to her, waving shyly and Clarke raised her hand in greeting.

“Mia!” Titus called, his lip twitching upwards in the faintest of snarls. “Perhaps you can tell Wanheda what we've been learning today.”

The little girl that had waved tensed up and Clarke smiled at the sheepish look on her face. “Today we are learning about the Boudalan-” Her small voice started to say.

“Mia...” Titus said warningly.

“Sorry,” She apologised, her cheeks flushing slightly. “The people of the Rock Line and the games they hold to select their leader.”

“Oh?” Clarke had already read all about the subject. Every five years those who wanted to become the leader of the Rock Line would compete in six challenges, with the eventual winner becoming their leader. “And which of the challenges is your favourite?” She asked the girl.

Mia smiled brightly, but Titus cut her off before she could even begin to reply. “Thank you, Wanheda. If that is all?”

There were few pleasures Clarke could take in life any more, but she knew aggravating Titus was one she could indulge in. “I'll see you all soon.” Clarke smiled to the nightblood's at his feet and she could just see the tightening of the man's jaw as all the children beamed back at her excitedly.

She was still smiling when she swung the doors open, nodding her head slightly in greeting at the two guards standing outside. If Lexa wasn't in the throne room then Clarke supposed she must have been out in the training ground. It was a long walk down, but with the weather still shining down on Polis she wouldn't mind the distraction of the city below them.

“Wanheda!” A female voice called from behind her before she could make it too far away from the room. As she turned around, Clarke recognised the guard as one of the many who had stood outside her room. “Heda is currently in her quarters if you wish to meet with her.”

The door to Lexa's room was already pushed ajar and Clarke didn't think twice about pushing it fully open. The Commander was easy to spot.

Clarke wasn't sure how she expected to find Lexa, but laying across the couch with her legs propped up on the arms with a book resting against her arm hadn't been it.

“Clarke.” The brunette said slowly as swivelled her legs off the couch. Her long coat was thrown across the end of her bed, but Clarke couldn't see any trace of her shoulder guard and cloak.

“One of the guards said you were here.” Clarke explained, pushing the door shut behind her until it clicked into place. There were stacks of paper and what looked like maps spread out across the small table sitting in front of the other woman. The blonde creased her brow at the sight of them. “Did you even sleep last night?”

“No.” Lexa replied calmly. As if realising the mess of the table in front of her, she reached forwards to shuffle some of the paper into a neater pile.

Clarke didn't hesitate to let her curiosity take her to where Lexa was sitting. Maps and letters were spread out before her. It was one of the maps on the top of the pile that caught her attention first, and Clarke picked it up to look at the familiar writing.

“The handwriting.” Clarke muttered, her finger tracing the delicate letters.

Lexa looked up from the stack of papers she was shuffling together. “Costia's. She drew most of these.”

Clarke's mouth dropped open slightly as she looked back down at the map. “She wrote the book Anya gave me.” She realised.

The other woman nodded. “It was meant to be a gift, but after...” Lexa trailed off and Clarke didn't need her to complete the sentence. “I knew it would keep you busy.”

“Keep me busy?” Clarke asked, trying to ignore the way her heart had started to pound at Lexa's confession about the books origin.

“You do not do well standing still, Clarke. Today should be a day of rest for you, but still you seek me out to see if there's something you can do.”

“Like you're not the same.” Clarke smiled wryly and she watched curiously as Lexa leaned back onto the couch, her feet kicking up onto it again. “What are doing?”

“Reading.” Lexa replied simply. Clarke stared at her with something akin to disbelief. “I am not the Commander all the time, Clarke. Sometimes there is time enough for a break.”

Suddenly, Clarke felt like she was intruding on something she shouldn't see. This was Lexa's personal time, something the blonde doubted that the Commander ever got much of it. It was also obvious that Lexa had been looking through her old lovers belongings. Having Clarke there looking at the maps Costia drew, holding them was probably making the other woman more uncomfortable than she was letting on.

With her cheeks flushing slightly from the embarrassment of the situation, Clarke started to back out of the room. “I should go.”

Lexa looked up instantly. “Stay.”

Dropping the book back onto the seat again, Lexa pushed her body up before walking to the chest at the side of the room. “You should take time rest too.”

“There's an army threatening my people and we're about to find out if your people are going to vote not to kill people any more. Sorry for being a little tense.”

“You need to learn to stand still, Clarke.” Lexa replied over her shoulder whilst she continued searching through the box.

The blonde almost scoffed, choosing instead to sit back in the chair next to Lexa's couch. “Easier said than done.” Clarke muttered before jerking in surprise as Lexa dropped a pile of leather bound paper onto her lap.

“There's nothing we can do. Half the ambassadors have yet to return and the Ice Nation's army remains the same.” The other woman explained.

Looking up questioningly, Clarke reached out for the charcoal in Lexa's hand. “You want me to draw.”

Lexa hummed before she sat back on the sofa, her legs once again swinging up onto the seat. “Or write, or read. Just. Stand still.”

Clarke's hands shook slightly and she was glad Lexa's attention was already back on the book in her hands. She hadn't drawn in months. She hadn't drawn to relax since before Finn had died. The walls of her cell on the Ark had been littered with pictures of how she imagined the ground would look. Everyday she would wipe clean a spot to start again. Trees, fields, even what she imagined the sky would look like from the surface of the earth would fill the cold grey space of her prisons walls.

That had stopped the moment Clarke hit the ground though.

Since finding out the earth was nothing like the hope she had imagined it to be, Clarke had found her sparks of inspiration slowly waning until the fall of the mountain had snuffed them out completely. There were moments, small windows of beauty on the ground that would set her hands itching again, but she had never quite managed to recapture the excitement since.

It was hope, Clarke realised abruptly. The fall from space had stripped the hope away from her.

Placing the bundle of papers at her feet, the former artist reached out to the table and pulled a stack of maps onto her lap. Clarke traced her fingers over the dark ink. All of them had Costia's distinctive curved handwriting. She wondered what the girl who had captured the Commander's heart had been like. She wondered what the Commander had been like before she had been killed.

Clarke wasn't sure what drew her gaze back to Lexa, but her breath caught in her throat when she saw her. At some point during her musings, Lexa had fallen asleep, her head resting against the arm of the couch and the book in her hand slumped against her arm.

All the tension that usually clung to the woman like a cloak was gone. She looked peaceful, Clarke realised. More peaceful that Clarke ever thought she would see her.

Without thinking, the blonde quietly dropped Costia's maps back onto the table and retrieved the paper she had dropped onto the floor.

Drawing came back naturally.

With her eyes fixed on Lexa, Clarke drew the curves of the Grounder's body. There was a delicateness about her that Clarke had started to forget existed, a fragility that seemed to contradict the harsh and overwhelming presence of the Commander. This was the woman that Costia must have fallen in love with, and Clarke was sure it must have been love.

The charcoal continued to move under her fingers, carefully sketching the woman in front of her.

It struck her again how unfair their lives were. They were just two girls who wanted to do the right thing. Two girls that had sacrificed their own lives and happiness for the sake of their people. If Lexa died her people would move on to the next the Commander, if Clarke died Kane would most likely take her place as ambassador and her people would move on to better things.

Clarke paused her drawing and blinked back the angry tears that were suddenly in her eyes because did any of them truly know what they had both sacrificed for them? What they were still willing to sacrifice? And not for the first time, Clarke found herself wondering if it was all worth it.

Lexa shifted slightly in her sleep prompting Clarke to look up. She waited to see if the woman was going to move any more before continuing her sketching.

The sleeping woman was still for a few more moments, but as Clarke darkened the braids of Lexa's hair she twisted onto her back abruptly, her head twitching away from her. She was dreaming, Clarke realised and she watched the frown on Lexa's face deepen.

The twisting increased, the tension quickly returning to the woman's relaxed body. Clarke almost jumped out of her seat when Lexa suddenly jolted upright, her book clattering loudly to the floor. Panicked green eyes darted across the room and Clarke could see the rapid rising and falling of Lexa's chest.

“Hey, hey,” Quickly dropping her drawing behind her, Clarke stepped across to the couch to sit beside the panicking woman. “It's okay. You're okay.” She quietly cooed, her hand reaching out to squeeze at Lexa's knee.

The brunette's eye were still wide, her breathing still erratic, but with Clarke's grip on her leg squeezing tighter she finally dropped her head into her hands.

“What were you dreaming about?” Clarke asked worriedly.

“The Commanders before me. They speak to me in my sleep.” Lexa breathed. Clarke couldn't help rolling her eyes slightly, unwilling to tell Lexa that what she was hearing was just her own thoughts, not the voices of the dead. “I saw their deaths at war, at the hands of an assassin.”

“It was just a nightmare.” The blonde said gently, trying to calm Lexa's still erratic breathing.

“No. No. It's a warning.” Lexa continued and Clarke shook her head slightly. “They think I'm betraying their legacy. Jus drein just daun has always, always been the way of our people.”

“Listen to me. Blood must not have blood is the right thing to do. Our people have known too much death, and it's you that's going to stop that. Your legacy will be peace, Lexa.” Clarke tried to comfort.

She couldn't help looking away disappointedly when Lexa blinked her eyes away from her. She had seen the disbelief there, and she couldn't quite understand how Lexa's conviction could be shaken so much by a dream.

The disappointment quickly shifted to embarrassment. It was horrifying really, and Clarke wanted nothing more than the couch to open up and swallow her whole.

Standing from the couch, Lexa leant down to pick up her book from the floor. It was when she paused that Clarke realised Lexa's eye line was directed straight at the picture she had been drawing just moments before.

Quickly she scrambled to her feet, her heart thundered in her chest as Lexa reached out to the drawing.

Oh, um,” Clarke could already feel her palms starting to sweat and she nervously, she wiped her hands against her pants. “That's, um it's not finished yet.”

Countless emotions seemed to wash over Lexa's face until her shining green eyes locked onto hers again. There was awe there. Hope.

Lexa was about to say something to her, Clarke was sure of it, but the knocking on the door behind them had them both startling. In an instant Lexa was dropping the drawing back onto the seat and Clarke watched as the mask of the Commander went up.

“Enter.” She called out, barely giving Clarke enough time to hide the art work before Titus was walking into the room.

Clarke tried to keep her face as neutral as possible as the man glared at her. “Pardon me, Heda. I didn't realise you were busy.”

Behind him two more guards entered the room carrying a dinner table sized box between them. It was red with chains and mesh haphazardously nailed into the wood. Both of the Grounder's subtly shook out their arms when it was finally on the floor. Whatever it was inside, it was heavy.

Looking up again, Clarke realised Titus had been staring at her the whole time.

It was the Commander who grew impatient first. “Are you going to tell me what's in the box, or not?”

“Forgive me.” Titus quickly apologised, his head ducking. “This is a gift from King Roan of Azgeda.” He announced, looking between them both before pointing towards the box. “May I?”

The woman beside her nodded once. “Open it.”

Both guards moved forwards once again, their fingers unlatching the metal that was keeping the box locked closed. The door drew up and Clarke squinted her eyes at what she saw, stepping closer to try and decipher not what it was, but who.

It was a man and her heart seemed to freeze when his hands came down to reveal his bloody face.

“Emerson.” Clarke gasped, her mouth dropping open in shock at the feral eyes that stared back at her.

The blonde didn't have the chance to fully comprehend what was happening when her body slammed onto the floor. The air crushed out of her lungs and she struggled against the man that was now crawling his way up her body. He'd tackled her to the floor, she quickly realised, and as she tried to push him off her his head collided painfully against her own.

Instantly, black dots danced across her vision. There were voices crying out around her, but Clarke was only partially aware of Emerson being pulled off her. It was only when his weight was finally lifted from her that Clarke felt warm hands gripping at her arms, and she leant on them to hoist her body upright.

“Put him in a cage! Now!” The Commander ordered from beside her.

Suddenly, it was too much.

The room was closing in on her, the darkness creeping across her vision, her chest tight-

Clarke pulled her arm from Lexa's grip. “I'm fine.” She snapped.

Emerson's cries were still echoing around the inside of her skull and she watched him kicking and struggled against the guards that were pulling him out of the room. He was still staring straight at her, his eyes ablaze with hate.

Carl Emerson. The man that had offered the deal to Lexa. The man that had killed her people. Twice. The rage that swirled inside her was a familiar one.

“Clarke, you're hurt.” Lexa's voice said softly, but Clarke whirled away from her worried eyes.

“I'm fine.” She spat back.

Clarke could almost imagine the way the other must have been clenching her own jaw when let out a heavy breath from behind her. “Do you want me to call the healers?”

“I said I'm fine Lexa!” Clarke snapped again, twisting around to face the other woman.

“You're bleeding.” Lexa pointed out, her voice sounding calm, but Clarke could see the clear frustration in her eyes.

“What? I-” Reaching up, Clarke blinked in surprise to find wet sticky blood under her fingertips.

“Return to your room, I'll have one of the healers go to you.”

Gone was a peaceful atmosphere between them and Clarke cursed herself for letting herself become so comfortable around the other woman. Emerson was a stark reminder of exactly why she had been so angry.

“I can take care of myself.” She snarled.

With her head still throbbing from the impact of Emerson's head, Clarke quickly walked out of Lexa's room, not bothering to turn around when she heard the other woman calling her name. She was foolish, and Clarke bit the inside of her cheek because she had been sitting in Lexa's room, relaxing with her. She'd been drawing the woman that had left her to die, that had forced her to-

“Pheme?” She asked in surprise as she opened the door to her room.

Panicked eyes looked at her. “You are hurt.”

“It's fine.” Clarke dismissed, trying to brush her off, but the girl was already rushing towards her.

“Sit, sit.” She quickly rushed out, her hand pulling at Clarke's arm to direct her towards the bed.

If her head hadn't been spinning so much, the blonde might have tried to dismiss her again. Instead, she closed her eyes and listened to Pheme moving around the room.

Despite listening to the girl's movements, Clarke's whole body still jerked in surprise when she felt a cold cloth being pressed to her head. There was something other than water on the fabric and Clarke hissed as it stung at the cut.

“Heda do this?” Pheme asked quietly.

Cracking an eye open, Clarke shook her head slightly. “No, no, it was-” She paused, stopping herself before she revealed too much to the girl. “King Roan sent a gift.”

Pheme hummed, before dabbing at the cut with another cloth. “This gift, not good.”

A smile pulled at her lips. “No, not good.”

“King Roan bring gift?” The girl asked, and Clarke looked at the girl curiously. It was an innocent enough question, but Clarke could see a hardness in Pheme's eyes that was unexpected.

“No... He had it sent to us.”

Pheme nodded before she pulled the cloth away completely. “It was good to meet you, Clarke.” The girl said and Clarke felt the lines of her forehead creasing at her phrasing.

She smiled regardless though, reaching out to squeeze Pheme's hand. “It's been nice getting to know you too, Pheme.”

The pain in Clarke's head had finally subsided to a dull throb when the knock at her door caused another spike in her headache. She'd been laying on her bed since Pheme had left her, trying to shut down the memories seeing Emerson had stirred within her mind.

Grounding, Clarke stood up from the bed, her hand rubbing at her temple.

“Come in.” She muttered quietly.

It shouldn't have surprised her to see Lexa walking through the door, her casual attire replaced with her full Commander regalia.

“Clarke.” She greeted formally.


Stepping deeper into the room, green eyes studied her for a moment. “I've had Emerson moved to the throne room.”

“And why are you telling me this.” Clarke glowered, her voice colder than she intended.

“Because his crimes were against your people. It will be you that decides his fate-”

Clarke didn't let her finish, an unexpected burst of anger shooting through her. “So what? You're here to tell me what that fate is going to be? The same way you told Rhea how the Trikru would be voting?”

“No.” Lexa stated calmly, but Clarke could hear the subtle tone of impatience slipping into her voice. “I'm here to tell you your choices. Either you lead your people to the future and proclaim that he will be handed to Luna to live out his years in captivity. Or, you stay in the past and kill him yourself. Death by 49 cuts.”

“And that's it? Those are my choices.”

“You could also choose to banish him.” The Commander offered, but Clarke knew if she did it would undoubtedly not be the last time she would see Carl Emerson. Regardless of where her was banished to, he would find his way back to her. She'd killed his people after all. Burnt them alive using their own genetic defect. There were things that could be forgiven, and there were things that couldn't.

There were also things that shouldn't be forgiven. “And what if he gives you a new deal?” Clarke asked darkly, but Lexa didn't take the bait she was dangling in front of her.

“You want him dead for what he's done.” Clarke tried to keep the surprise off her face. She'd barely even acknowledged the fact she wanted Emerson dead to herself, but Lexa had already picked up on it. “I recognised the look in your eye Clarke. You want vengeance.”

Clarke let out a toneless laugh. “Can you blame me?”

“No.” The young leader agreed, her hands tucked behind her back. “But it takes one person to end the cycle of violence.” She said, using Clarke's own words against her.

“If Emerson dies there won't be a circle any more. It will be the final piece in the war with the Mountain Men. I thought that's what you wanted. Or are you walking away again?” Clarke wasn't sure why she was trying to entice the other woman into an argument with her, but it felt good to see Lexa's expression darkening.

“You have something to say?” The woman asked, her patience finally wearing too thin as she stepped deeper into Clarke's personal space until there was barely any distance between them at all. “Then say it.”

“Maybe I've just been reminded that there's some things that can't be forgiven.”

Lexa scoffing wasn't the response Clarke expected or wanted.

“This isn't about forgiveness, it's about what's right for our people.” The other woman replied harshly, her lip curling slightly. “You have until sundown to decide, Clarke.”

The Commander's cloak flew out behind her and Clarke had to bite her tongue to stop herself from goading the woman into a full scale argument. The door shuddered in the frame with the force of Lexa pulling it shut behind her. The noise of it had Clarke scrunching her eyes shut in pain.

Clarke was so sure she'd dealt with her emotions regarding the Mountain. That she'd buried the memories that made her insides twist and her mind spin deep enough that she had practically forgotten them. When Monty had spoken to her at Arkadia she couldn't even remember him being there, but he was, he was sat right there.

My sister. My responsibility.”

I have to save them.”

Desperately, Clarke tried to think of anything but the feel of Bellamy's hand on hers. She knew what was waiting for her if she let her thoughts linger there too long. She knew the faces she would see.

"I made this decision with my head and not my heart."

"Stop!" Clarke cried out, but it was too late. The levee had already been breached and she pressed her palms into her eyes as the images assaulted her.

All she could see were the bodies. Each one covered in blisters and weeping streams of blood. Their dead eyes had seemingly stared at her from every part of the Mountain, haunting her every step from the control room. The sharp tang of blood in the air that had clung to the inside of her nose for days was suddenly fresh in her mind. It had hung heavy in the air, practically suffocating her as she stepped between their lifeless bodies.

Her breathing was becoming erratic, the pressure on her chest crushing the air out of her lungs. Struggling to keep count, Clarke breathed in heavily through her nose, quickly exhaling the air as she counted down again.

It had been her, it had all been her and now the last of their kind was here. Judging her. Punishing her for what she had been forced to do. She had to see him, Clarke suddenly realised. If she wanted closure on the Mountain, then she had to face the last Mountain Man.

 “Give us a minute.” Clarke requested to guards at the door. They looked uncomfortable, unsure at leaving her alone with Emerson, but Clarke also knew they were both too afraid of the legendary Wanheda to try questioning her. They bowed their heads to her once before leaving her as requested.

With the door shut behind them, Clarke finally looked up at Emerson properly.

A pole had been erected in the centre of the room and Clarke could see his hands pulling against the restraints that had him pinned in place. A collar was wrapped around his neck too, stopping him from moving from his position.

There were new abrasions on his face, most likely courtesy of the Commander's guards, but underneath the dirt and blood Clarke realised he looked well, his body still stacked with muscle and his clothes still intact.

His eyes told a different more haunted story though. The blonde could see the familiar dark rings around them.

“Carl Emerson, Mount Weather security detail.” She greeted before she walked closer to the imprisoned man.

“I've heard what they call you now. Wanheda.” Emerson replied, his voice scratching out. “Commander of Death.”

“You destroyed the mountain-”

“I didn't destroy Mount Weather. You did.” He accused, his eyes burning with anger. “381 people 182 men, 173 women, 26 children. Two of them were mine.” The confession had Clarke's heart sinking into her stomach. It was hard to see a monster in the place of a grieving father.

“Your president gave us no choice-” The sound that tore from the man's throat was inhuman and Clarke had to remind herself to stand her ground as the collar strained around his neck.

“What's the matter?” He asked her, his body relaxing, but his eyes still staring dangerously. “You don't like to be faced with your demons?”

Clarke couldn't help ducking her head. The throne room felt too hot, and the throbbing in her head was from more than just the injury Emerson had inflicted on her.

“If you want mercy, you're gonna have to ask me for it.” She tried to say as calmly as possible.

Emerson laughed darkly. “What happened to blood must not have blood Wanheda. ” He said mockingly. “You see I want revenge. I want you to suffer the same way that I've suffered.” Another cruel smirk pulled at his lips. “You could kill me if you wanted Clarke. Just like the rest of my people. Go on, I know you want to. But I have a secret for you Wanheda. Even if you do kill me you can never escape what you've done.”

It felt like the air was crushing out of her lungs and Clarke knew leaving would mean he had won, but she couldn't stop herself from spinning around to face the door again. She needed to escape, to get away from the last reminder of the Mountain.

Her feet were moving before she could even think to stop herself, desperate to get out out the shrinking room.

“Did you hear me, Clarke!” Emerson called from behind her. “You can never escape this!”

Clarke's heart was still pounding in her chest as she walked away from the throne room with Emerson's voice still echoing down the hallway after her. She thought seeing Emerson would make things easier, that seeing him would give her the closure she craved.

Clarke startled when she pushed open the doors to her room. “Titus?” She gasped in surprise and the bald headed man looked up at her with disdain from the seat he had taken on one of her chairs. “What are you doing in my room?”

She didn't want him there. Especially not now when her head was threatening to cave in on itself from the weight of her thoughts and memories.

“You spend so much time talking about peace, I think it's time we made peace with each other, don't you?” He offered calmly.

Clarke scoffed in response though, her arms crossing over her chest. “You tried to kill me.”

“I will not apologise for protecting the Commander. It is my job as flamekeeper to do so.” Titus replied, an edge creeping into his voice.

Clarke rolled her eyes before sitting opposite him. “Except you weren't protecting Lexa.”

“You were conspiring with the enemy.” He gritted out.

“I was speaking to the man that your Commander went on to declare King.”

Titus stared back at her, his eyes hard.

“Regardless of our previous actions,” Clarke had to stop herself from scoffing again because none of her former actions had involved trying to kill the man. “I do appreciate the predicament you're in, Clarke. After convincing Lexa not to kill Nia out of vengeance, it must be hard for you to choose to take your own revenge on the Mountain Man. Perhaps now you realize how difficult this new policy will be for our people to accept.” He said, he's true intentions of their conversation becoming increasingly obvious. This wasn't about peace between them, this was about her revoking her vote for 'blood must not have blood'.

“Your people have already started to accept it.”

“Our people will not accept it!” Titus snapped back, his jaw quivering as he paused for a moment. His voice was softer again as he continued. “Blood must not have blood is folly and I fear it will get her killed. Lexa listens to you. Help me to protect her.”

Clarke remembered the expression on the man's face when Lexa had nominated herself to fight to the death. She had seen his worried expression following Lexa's every move, and she didn't doubt that his concern was genuine. In her eyes though, it was a concern that was unnecessary. "Lexa is capable of protecting herself.”

With his eyes squinting slightly he lent forwards. “Do you see nothing beyond your own needs?”

The statement had her reeling back slightly. All Clarke had been doing recently was looking beyond her own needs. She'd looked beyond them when she had chosen not to plunge her knife into the side of Lexa's neck. When she agreed to swallow her hurt and kneel before the Commander for the sake of her people she'd turned away from her.

“This isn't about my needs, or yours...” Clarke trailed off as a sudden clarity washed over her at the sight of Titus's increasingly angered eyes. It wasn't a clarity that Titus had meant to bestow upon her, and in the crush of her memories she had started to forget what it was that had made her bury them to begin with. She had started to forget why she had pushed on past her own pain to join the coalition. “This is about the needs of both our people and what they need, is peace.”

“Then we're at an impasse.” Titus said, standing abruptly. “Her blood will be on your hands, Wanheda.”

Clarke stood up, walking around the table that had been sat between them until she was directly in front of him. "This is going to work, Titus. With or without your support." She felt her lip snarl up. "Now get out."

 The sun was starting to set and Clarke stood at the side of the throne room watching the room slowly drop into darkening hues of orange.

She'd been left alone for the rest of the day, leaving her thoughts to play over the decision she had to make. It should have been a simple one. Clarke knew the importance of the vote that was coming. But this was different. This was Carl Emerson, and Clarke knew he deserved to die. He'd helped to capture her friends with the intent to drill their bones until they ran dry. For years he had knowingly drained the blood from the Grounders, he'd knowingly let them be pumped with drugs to turn them into monsters.

He was the one that had helped Nia destroy the Mountain with her people trapped inside.

Nia had been destined for the same fate though. She had been destined to die, but Clarke had convinced the Commander that she should swallow her own vengeance for the sake of their people's future.

The hypocrisy of the situation wasn't lost on her.

It wasn't just the crimes he had committed though. He was a reminder of what she had done. He was a reminder of what Lexa had done to her. She wouldn't be killing him to finally end the war of the Mountain. She would be killing him to give herself closure.

The deep beating of drums began to pound around the room, the sound reverberating through her chest. Her palms started to sweat, and she looked at the gathering of people beside her.

There were leaders of the other clans amongst them. Of the seven clans that had already returned to Polis, three of them had returned without ambassadors and with their leaders instead. Luna had remained in Polis as Lexa had asked, and Clarke ducked her head away from her gaze.

The Chief of the Blue Cliff clan leaned heavily on his staff, his jet black hair flecked with grey. Feathers framed the top of his head, and white paint dotted across the tanned skin of his face. He had been watching Clarke since she entered the room. As had the three members of the Broad Leaf's Jury that had been sent in place of their now dead ambassador. Most strikingly was the Leader of the Rock Line, his muscles pulling tightly at his shirt and his neck bulging and flexing with every beat of the drum.

They were here to be convinced. Lexa had been confident of the Blue Cliffs Chief's vote, but Clarke knew she couldn't risk her actions him changing it.

The doors to throne room burst open and Clarke watched the Commander stride into the room, her guards flanking her as strode towards her throne. It seemed that half the guards in the tower were crowded into the room.

The drumming increased, the sound beating off the walls as she took her place at the front of the room.

All it took was the raising of her hand for the beat to stop.

“Ambassadors. Leaders. Citizens of Polis.” The Commander called, addressing each group within the room. “We gather here to decide the fate of the last Mountain Man. For too long did their reign over our people continue. That reign ends today.” Turning to look her directly in the eye, Clarke swallowed at the cold look in the other woman's eyes. “Wanheda the decision is yours.” The brunette called, handing her knife to the guard the standing closest to her.

Stepping around the people that had crowded in front of her, Clarke made her way to Emerson. His eyes still held the same fire she had seen in them just hours before, but there was a calmness about him. He had accepted his fate Clarke realised.

She ignored the knife that was held out to her, choosing to step closer to the man instead. “I don't know if your death would bring me peace. I just know I don't deserve it.” Clarke said quietly, so only Emerson would hear her.

“What the hell do you mean?” He hissed, his whole body tensing.

Stepping away from him, Clarke looked around the room, her gaze lingering on the clan leaders and ambassadors. “I will not take the life of this man.”

“This man must die!” Titus raged from the front of the room, but Clarke wasn't looking at him. Her eyes were on the woman beside him. The relief on Lexa's face was obvious, her eyes warming as she stared back at Clarke. “If you will not take his life, then Heda will!”

“Heda will speak for herself.” The Commander snapped at the man before stepping down from her platform. “Enough, Titus.”

“What is this?” Emerson asked her, his voice low and his hands starting to pull against his restraints again. “You're meant to be the Commander of Death.”

“I wouldn't be killing you for what you've done. I'd be killing you for what I've done.” Clarke replied quietly.

The man in font of her practically growled, the veins around his neck popping wildly as he struggled to free himself.

The Commander stopped beside her, a flicker of a smile appearing. “Thank you.” Lexa whispered to her, her voice muffled by the sound of the muttering crowd and the desperate grunts Emerson was still making.

I give this man's life to Luna kom Floukru. Blood must not have blood.” Clarke called to the crowd in Trigedasleng and she didn't miss the nod of agreement the Blue Cliff's Chief gave her or the barely there smile on the face of the Rock Line's leader.

Silence!” The Commander voice boomed, quietening the room in an instant. “The crimes of the Mountain cannot be answered by one man. Wanheda knows this.” She said, moving her head to look out at the crowd. “Her actions show us a promise for a new future, a world in which violence does not always answer violence, a world in which our children can flourish without the shadow of death. This is why we must vote for blood must not have blood.” Turning back to Emerson, the Commander looked him directly in the eye as she continued in English. “This prisoner is to suffer the same fate as Nia kom Azgeda. He will live, but he will live with the ghosts of those he has lost, haunted until the end of his days by the knowledge that he is the last of his kind.”

“May you live forever.” Clarke whispered to him, his hot breath hitting her face as his lost eyes stared at her.

It started with a single clap, the large hands of the Rock Line's leader beating together. Luna followed swiftly behind him. More joined and before long the chorus of applause resounded off the walls of the chamber. There were those that stood unaffected, their hands held firmly at their sides, and despite his hands clapping together Titus continued to glare at Clarke from his place on the podium.

The blonde was still smiling when she turned around at the sound of the throne room door opening.

Her blood suddenly ran cold.

Clarke barely registered the bloody, haggered form of Roan. All she could focus on was the woman laying limp in his arms.

“Anya!” She cried, and she didn't care who was watching as she rushed towards them.

Summon the healers! Now!” The Commander shouted from behind her.

Roan gently placed Anya on the ground just in time for Clarke to drop straight to her knees beside her. Blood was dripping down the woman's forehead, the thick red streams covering most of her face. Instantly, Clarke's fingers were on the side of Anya's neck and the blonde almost sobbed in relief when she felt the barely there fluttering under her finger tips.

Out the corner of her eye, Clarke could see the thick sole of Lexa's boots. “She's alive.” Clarke quickly confirmed, her hands ripping at the fabric of her own shirt.

“Who the hell's he?” Roan asked her, a grimace on his face as he looked over her shoulder.

Clarke's eyes widened, and the deep feeling of dread sinking into her stomach. “Carl Emerson? You sent him here?”

“Not me, Wanheda.” With a deep groan, Roan stumbled to his feet again. “We've got a problem.” He wheezed from above her.

Where is Nia?” The Commander seethed.

Escaped, by the time-” He sounded breathless and when Clarke looked up from wrapping Anya's head, she could see how pale and clammy his skin looked. “They were already- Ugh-”

Clarke moved just in time.

Roan's body crashed to the floor, his body covering Anya's legs. There was a bloody cloth wrapped around his ribs with what looked like fresh welts of fresh blood shining through. Rolling his body as best she could, Clarke searched for a pulse, relieved to find it strong and wild beneath her fingers.

“He's alive,” she quickly informed the woman standing above her. “Lexa I can't treat them both-”

As if by command the doors slammed open, the healers from the floor below spilling into the room.

Take him!” The Commander ordered them, clearly giving the care of Anya over to the blonde.

With Roan being taken care of, Clarke diverted her attention back to the General. There were people staring at them, and Clarke was all to aware of the room full of people behind her.

Lexa we need to get her out of here.” She muttered just quietly enough for only her to hear.

It wasn't quiet enough.

Tell me where to go.” The Rock Line's leader boomed, his large arms scooping up Anya's suddenly small frame.

“This way.” Clarke ordered.

Rushing to her feet, Clarke quickly pushed open the throne room door, turning to see the burly man effortlessly carrying Anya behind them. Three guards followed close behind, their boots thudding nosily whilst Clarke jogged ahead throwing open the door to her room.

“What do you need?” Lexa asked her, her green eyes focusing on Anya as she was placed down on Clarke's bed.

“Fresh towels, water and a thread and a needle.” Clarke listed off quickly.

Leaning over the unconsciously woman, Clarke moved the pillow behind Anya's head. Lexa called out to the guards, repeating her request to them, but Clarke's concentration was fixed on the woman laying in front of her.

"I will begin the hunt Heda."  The deep voice of the Rock Line's leader said from behind her.

With her attention still on Anya, Clarke pulled open her coat, not bothering to undo the little pieces of metal that were holding it together causing the toggles to scatter across the floor around her. Clarke almost smiled, because the other woman was going to be pissed at her when she woke up and realised what she'd done. With another pull of her hands, Clarke ripped open Anya's top, her eyes darting over the exposed skin looking for injury.

Deep purple bloomed over the side of her ribs, and Clarke dropped her head onto the area, closing her eyes to try and listen for the faintest crackle. She stayed there for a few moments trying to listen past the shouts echoing around the tower and only once she was satisfied did she heave a sigh of relief.

There was nothing but Anya's steady breathing.

“Is she okay?” Lexa's worried voice asked from behind her, and truthfully Clarke had forgotten she had followed her into the room.

Clarke nodded, realising when she looked up that it was just the two of them in the room now. “She's going to be fine.”

As if on command Anya groaned loudly, her eyes scrunching shut. “Did you try to kill me again, Sky girl?”

Clarke smiled, blinking back the tears of relief. “Yeah, it had been a while.” Anya's body was suddenly trying to jolt upright forcing Clarke to quickly push her back onto the bed. “Hey, no you've got a head wound, Anya, you need to stay laying down-”

Get off me Sky girl!, I need to see the Commander.” Anya grunted out in harsh Trigedasleng, her eyes still drooping with her barely there consciousness.

Lexa was beside her a moment later. “Anya, I already know, now let Clarke treat you.

I need to help look for Nia.” The General replied, continuing to struggle against Clarke's hold.

You won't even be able to stand.” Clarke argued back, the Trigedasleng falling from her lips easily.

Watch me.” Anya snarled back.

The air in the room seemed to chill when Lexa's hands covered Clarke's to add her weight against the struggling woman's shoulders. “Lie. Down. Now Anya.” The brunette ordered.

Anya took in two heavy breaths before the fight seemed to leave her body, wincing as she let it rest back on the bed.

With the woman finally settled back on the bed, Clarke quickly started to wash her hands in the bowl of water one of the guard's must have brought in during her inspection of the woman. “You're going to be fine, but I need to stitch that wound on your head okay?”

“We have healers that can do this, Clarke,” Anya slurred, the tiredness seeping into her tone again. “Go, join the war council.”

Clarke chose to ignore her, shifting the injured woman's head to the side to get the cut into the dim light of the candles instead. The angle was wrong and she cursed when it fell into the shadow of the bed frame.

Suddenly there was light right over Anya's face and Clarke looked behind her to see Lexa's worried eyes looking down at her, a candle held firm in her hand.

“Keep that right there.” Clarke said quietly and Lexa nodded once in response. Looking Anya straight in the eye, Clarke showed her the needle she was about to pierce her skin with. “Now shut up and let me do my job.”

Chapter Text

 “Lexa!” Clarke shouted, but the brunette ignored her and continued marching down the corridor. “Will you wait!”

“How the hell did this happen?” Lexa raged from in front of her.

After Clarke had finished Anya's stitches, the injured woman had begrudgingly passed out in her bed. That had left Lexa free to go sweeping out the room, the anger practically rolling off of her, before Clarke even had the chance to wash the blood off her hands.

“Lexa!” She called out again, trying to keep pace with the woman.

With a roar, the Commander threw open the throne room doors, the guards darting out of her way. The force of it had the wood slamming so loudly against the wall that Clarke was sure the noise must have reverberated deep into the depths of the tower.

The blonde was following her into the now empty room barely a second later, but the other woman was already half way across the space, striding dangerously towards Emerson.

“You look upset, Commander.” He smirked, still bound to the pole in the centre of the room. Lexa's fist collided with the side of his jaw in response, her other hand twisting painfully in his hair as she stepped within a hairs breadth of him.

Clarke froze to the side of them, watching their sudden stare off.

“Talk.” The Commander seethed, her lips curling and her neck straining with her barely restrained fury.

“Heda.” Luna's steady voice said from the doorway, and Clarke turned to see her slowly walking into the room, studying her Heda's taught form.

This does not concern you Luna.” The Commander barked to the woman, but her eyes never left Emerson's.

Luna stepped closer. “Heda, he will not give you anything-”

“Do you want her demands?” Emerson smiled. “If you want her to end the siege on the tower, then all she'll want is you to release me and give yourself and Clarke up. Nobody else has to get hurt.”

Clarke creased her brow. There was no siege. At least none that she was aware of. Lexa's face gave nothing away though, and Clarke felt a sudden irrational bout of panic. Quickly, she shook the thought out of her mind though, because Lexa had been with her the whole time. There was no way the other woman would know about a siege without Clarke knowing too.

There was no way from Emerson to know that either. Unless-

"Emerson was a decoy." The blonde whispered to herself in sudden realisation.

Nia wasn't laying siege to the tower, but that's what they had told him was going to happen. Whoever had convinced the man to get into the box had lied to him to get him inside.

It was the perfect plan.

Everyone in the tower would have their eyes on Emerson. No one was looking at Nia when the last Mountain Man was on trial. Everyone had wanted to see his fate, even those that were meant to be on the lower floors.

He was the perfect distraction.

Except Nia escaping was the only part of the plan they had stuck to. Clarke suspected it had never been their intent to instigate a siege to begin with. The only way they could have possibly managed one would be if Nia's whole army was in Polis, but the Commander's scouts would have spotted that force coming from miles away.

Clarke couldn't help scoffing because whether or not there had been a plan for a siege was irrelevant. Nia had abandoned Emerson in Polis. They had lied to the man to keep him quiet about Nia's plan, then left him to his fate.

“What? You think you can outlast the Ice Queen, Wanheda.” Emerson mocked, his eyes looking past the Commander to where Clarke was standing.

“Nia doesn't find you useful any more, Emerson.” Clarke replied, her arms crossing over her chest. Nia didn't owe any loyalty to the man, she only ever needed him for his knowledge of the mountain.

“You should have just stayed gone, Mountain Man.” The Commander snarled before finally stepping away from him, her hand slamming his head back one last time.

He looked confused, his eyes darting between the three of them.

“There is no siege and Nia isn't coming back to get you.” Clarke confirmed, taking more pleasure than she would admit in the way Emerson's eyes widened.

“What the hell do you mean there's no siege?” He asked desperately, the panic clear on his face. "She was meant to kill you!" He added through clenched teeth.

“You've been betrayed, Mountain Man.” The Commander stated calmly, her hand rubbing across her knuckles.

Emerson's whole body tensed, the tendons on his neck straining. With a sudden jerk of his body he let out a roar of unrestrained rage, his muscles bulging as he pulled against his restraints.

“I'll kill you and everyone you love Clarke! You hear me-” The booming of Emerson's voice was cut off abruptly when Lexa swirled around, her fist colliding with his face again. His dazed eyes only managed to blink a couple of times before his head lulled onto his chest.

“Was that really necessary?” Luna asked, tutting as she walked towards the now unconscious man.

“Yes.” The brunette replied eyeing Emerson's slumped form. “Carl Emerson is yours. Have him out of the city by first light.”

“Wait,” Clarke panicked, walking forwards to stop Lexa's exit from the room. “You can't just let him go, he might know something.”

“Nothing we can trust.” Lexa explained. “He was willing to die. Now Nia's abandoned him and we're refusing to kill him, he has nothing to lose, and nothing to gain. All he has left is the satisfaction of watching you suffer.”

Clarke bit at her lip because she knew Lexa was right. Emerson would play both of them, running them in circles with half truths and outright lies until one of them killed him out of frustration. They wouldn't be able to trust a single word he said. They could keep him in Polis, just in case, but Clarke didn't trust having him so close to Arkadia, especially when it looked like war with the Ice Nation was unavoidable.

“And you're sure your prison is safe?” Clarke asked Luna.

The leader of the Boat People nodded confidently, stepping away from Emerson's still unconscious form. “We've held those who have been judged beyond redemption there for many years. None of them have been able to escape. The three that tried were killed by creatures that protect our lands.” Luna explained.

Clarke didn't need her to elaborate on what those “creatures” were, she had already seen countless examples in the lakes and streams that ran across the woodlands. She shuddered to think of what was living in the seas.

All Clarke wanted was for Emerson to be kept far away from her and her people. “Then he leaves tomorrow.” She agreed, relieved that Emerson and her physical reminder of the Mountain was about to disappear from her life again.

“There was one more thing.” Luna said, looking straight at Lexa. “The Boat People will not be joining you in your war.”

Clarke bristled at the other woman's accusation because this wasn't Lexa's war. This was a war that Nia was intent on bringing to them.

“All clans must contribute to the war effort. Do not think our history or the creation of your prison means you are exempt for that.” The Commander insisted, her hands folding behind her back.

“My people will not fight-”

“Then they will offer aid.” The other woman interrupted harshly, leaving no room for Luna to argue with her.

Clarke could tell that Luna still wasn't pleased with the request, her jaw clenching tightly, but she also knew Lexa wasn't going to offer her anything more. After a few moments Luna finally nodded her agreement. “We can spare some healers.”

“I will not ask them to fight, Luna. You have my word.” Lexa assured her, the harshness all but gone from her tone as she tried to alleviate the leader of the Boat People's worry.

“Thank you, Heda.”

The two women stood awkwardly facing each other and Clarke couldn't help feeling out of place. It felt like she was intruding on a moment that should have been shared between just the two of them. Lexa made no indication of wanting Clarke to go though, still standing shoulder to shoulder with her.

“You are welcome in Polis any time you wish, Luna.” Lexa offered, her voice dropping into a softness that Clarke had only ever heard directed at her.

Luna's eyes roamed around the room. “This place does not hold many good memories for me.” She comment when her eyes landed on the twisted wood of the throne.

“Polis is always changing," Lexa muttered quietly, her own eyes locking onto her throne. "Maybe it is time to make new memories here.”

Luna ducked her head. “Perhaps it is time for you to do the same, Lexa.” When Luna looked back towards them again Clarke could see the barely contained grin on her face. “If Titus will let you.”

Clarke wasn't quite prepared for the laughter that bubbled out of Lexa, her hand coming up to loosely cover her mouth as the noise quickly died away. Once again the blonde found her mind drifting over the thought of what Lexa was like before she was Commander. Was Lexa laughing a sight that Luna had grown up seeing, grown up causing. Clarke knew that the sudden bout of jealousy she felt was irrational and unnecessary.

“He is a very dedicated man.” Lexa replied lightly, all tension from their earlier disagreement completely erased.

Luna hummed in agreement, the smile she had been holding back finally breaking across her features. “Fair winds and following seas, Heda.” She announced before bowing her head.

“Fair winds and following seas.” Lexa repeated.

“It was good to meet you, Clarke.” Luna said, her attention turning to the blonde. “The rumours of your strength were not exaggerated.”

Clarke held out her arm, but instead of taking it, Luna just eyed it curiously. For a moment, Clarke thought the leader of the Boat People was rejecting her arm as she had during the their first meeting. That was until she looked down. Quickly, Clarke receded her hand when she realised it was still sticky with Anya's blood.

“May we meet again.” She said quickly, tucking hers hands behind her back instead.

The smile on Luna's face only grew wider. “May we meet again, Clarke kom Skaikru.”

 The walk to the Commander bedroom had been in complete silence.

Clarke couldn't help being suddenly hyper aware that the last real conversation her and Lexa had, had ended in the blonde needlessly trying to get a rise out of the other woman. The two guards outside the other woman's room didn't flinch as Lexa walked straight past them or when Clarke followed straight behind her.

Lexa quickly unclipped her shoulder guard and threw it onto the bed, rolling out her neck as soon as it was off her.

Clarke's own coat felt heavy on her shoulders and she pulled it off, resting it across the back of Lexa's chair. There was still blood coating both her hands. Looking at it, she wasn't surprised Anya had passed out again with the amount that was staining her palms.

“I need to wash my hands.” Clarke said quietly.

Lexa nodded once, throwing her long coat onto the bed before disappearing around the wall beside her bed.

Clarke had barely had the chance to sit down on the couch when the brunette was back with a bowl of water and clean cloths in her hands.

It was when Lexa passed her one of those cloths to dry her hands that Clarke eyed the woman's own knuckles.

“Your hand.” Clarke muttered. Reaching out to the still standing woman, the blonde pulled the material of Lexa's glove away to reveal the bruised knuckles.

“Is fine.” Lexa replied, and Clarke couldn't help raising her eyebrow when the pressure she applied to it had the other woman tensing her jaw. “It will be fine.” She corrected before pulling her hand out of Clarke's hold. “I asked Anya to guard Nia today.” Lexa informed her.

“Because of Emerson?” Clarke guessed, knowing if Lexa had even the faintest suspicion that Nia was using him to escape, that Anya would be the one she would trust to prevent it from happening.

“Yes." Lexa replied distractedly whilst she pulled some of the ties out of her hair. "His arrival felt... Convenient.”

That had Clarke's brow creasing and her head tilting to the side. “What do you mean?”

“He arrived the day after we had returned to the city. Why not earlier whilst we were away? Why not later after Nia had been taken from Polis? And for Roan to have sent him to us so quickly... It did not feel like a coincidence.” Lexa explained to her, dropping a tie from her hair onto the table in front of the couch.

Clarke couldn't help her face flushing. Lexa was right to be suspicious. The timing was off. If she hadn't been so distracted by the her memories of the Mountain she would have seen that. It was only once the evidence was right in front of her that she had managed to piece it together. The whole day she had been so wrapped up in what had happened in the past that she had completely missed what was happening in the present.

“I didn't even think about it.” She confessed.

“You were distracted.” Lexa replied simply and Clarke felt the burn of her cheeks increase. “I spoke to Ontari, she knew nothing of Nia's plan or Emerson's arrival in Polis. The girl is just another pawn for Nia to use when it is convenient.” She gritted out, pulling at her hair more aggressively.

“I'm sorry.” Clarke apologised suddenly. Lexa looked up at her, the confusion on her face clear to see. “For today, Emerson, he... He made me remember some things I didn't want to think about, and I took that out on you instead of thinking about why he was really here.”

“You do not need to apologise to me, Clarke.” Lexa quietly comforted, her hands untangling from her only partially debraided hair.

Keeping the distance between them respectful, the brunette took a seat beside her.

“We never really talked about it.” Clarke whispered, her teeth biting at her lip. She could almost feel the other woman's gaze burning into the side of her face. “About what happened at the Mountain.”

Lexa moved closer to her, waiting for a couple of moments before pushing her to continue. “Is it something you wish to talk about?” She asked, her voice quiet.

“No.” Clarke confessed, her hands pulling at the sleeves of her shirt nervously.

Truthfully she wanted to bury the memories again. To forget what had happened that night in the command room of Mount Weather.

Except burying the memories had almost been her undoing.

The blonde had been so overwhelmed by her recollection of that night, she had slipped straight into her worst panic attack in months. The emotions that had been unleashed at the same time had completely blinded her to what was happening right in front of her.

Clarke couldn't, she wouldn't let that happen again.

Sighing, Clarke felt her shoulders sagging. “But I can't keep pretending it didn't happen.”

She didn't say anything else, her mind tumbling over how to even start the conversation. It felt like she had a lot to say, but now she actually had the chance to say it, Clarke found herself clamming up.

“How did you do it?” Lexa prompted her, and Clarke wondered how long that particular question had been rattling around Lexa'a head.

My sister. My responsibility.”

I have to save them.”

Clarke shuddered at the memory.

“I pulled a lever. That was all it took.” Taking a heavy breath, she let her eyes follow the cracks that littered the wall of Lexa's room. “It reversed the air flow. Instead of blowing air out of the Mountain it pulled the contaminated air back in. It- They- Their bodies couldn't handle the radiation. I burnt them alive.”

The blonde wasn't sure how long the silence dragged on, but when Lexa replied there was a crack to her voice. “I would have pulled that lever for you, Clarke. I would have taken that burden for you.”

If Lexa had told her that a few days ago, Clarke would have scoffed at the idea. If Lexa had tried to tell her that a few days ago, Clarke very well might have tried to kill her. Things were different now though. Now she didn't doubt for a second that Lexa was telling the truth.

“I know.” Clarke admitted. “Do you ever regret walking away?”

“No.” Lexa replied immediately and a sudden lump appeared in Clarke's throat as she blinked back the tears that were suddenly welling in her eyes. “It was the right thing to do for my people. I do not regret protecting them.”

Clarke finally looked at the woman beside her.“And leaving me?” She asked, her own voice cracking.

“Sometimes,” Lexa paused, her head lowering in what Clarke thought might have been shame. “Sometimes I'm selfish. Sometimes I wish the choice was never offered to me.”

“It still hurts.” Clarke sniffed, quickly rubbing her hand across her eye to stop the tear that was threatening to fall. “You made me believe we could defeat the mountain together and then you left me with nothing. You made me believe that you- That you cared about me, Lexa, that you might-” Clarke cut herself off, letting out a heavy sigh.

“I did care, Clarke.” Lexa paused for a moment. “I still do.”

“It doesn't change what happened though.” Clarke said regretfully.

“No. It doesn't.” The room was silent again, and Clarke flinched in surprise when Lexa's hand reached out to her own. Warm fingers pulled her hands apart until Lexa could wrap them around her palm, the other woman's thumb brushing against her knuckle. “Never apologise for your feelings about the Mountain, Clarke. I left you when you asked me to stay, and I know that is something that cannot be forgiven-”


“But I hope one day you can look at me without being reminded about the Mountain. That one day you will sleep easy. That one day you will find someone who- Someone who can care for you and sacrifice everything to keep you safe.”

Lexa was letting her go Clarke realised. Once again, tears were burning hot in her eyes.

“And it is I that should apologise to you, Clarke. For leaving you and for Nia's actions against the Mountain.” Lexa continued. “On the Mountain, when Emerson offered me the deal I asked for your safety.”

“What?” Clarke blurted out.

Lexa flinched her hand away, clearly mistaking Clarke's shock for something else.

“He wanted you to be part of the deal, for you and the people you had outside the Mountain to be taken inside for the-” Lexa swallowed. “Treatment, but I would not allow it.”

In truth Clarke had never really thought about why Emerson had left her outside. Even with their weapons, her people would have easily been overpowered by the sheer volume of the Commander's army. All it would have taken was her command to disarm them. They easily could have been handed to the Mountain Men for their own bone marrow to be harvested.

Lexa had stopped that from happening though.

Realisation suddenly washed over her. “Emerson knew about your feelings for me.”

Lexa shuffled uncomfortably in her seat. “I believe he suspected.”

“That's why Nia made sure everyone knew she was searching for me...” Clarke drifted off as it all started to become clear. The timing all made sense. Nia had made sure everything was in place for the coup, that her army was already close to the border and then she had made her move.

“She knew if Emerson was right about what he suspected, then I wouldn't kill you.” Lexa paused for a moment. “You were just another pawn she used to make me look weak.”

“And destroying the Mountain made her look strong.” Clarke continued.

If the coup had been successful nobody would have questioned the fall of the weak Commander and the rise of the strong Ice Nation.

“As would killing you.” Lexa added, and Clarke couldn't help shuddering because if she had taken Roan's advise and killed the Commander there was no doubt in her mind that Nia would have killed her too. The moment Lexa was dead, Clarke would have lost her use to Nia and the only thing she would have left to offer her was the status taking Wanheda's life would have given the Queen.

“But her coup didn't work.” Clarke stated.

“She was too confident in Roan's abilities and underestimated my own. You were right though, Clarke. It was too easy.” Lexa admitted. The blonde creased her brow. She thought during their ride to Arkadia the other woman had dismissed her worries completely. “I suspect Nia never expected to fail, but I should have known that she wouldn't accept her fate as prisoner and had her moved immediately.”

“That's why you asked Rhea to raise an army.” Clarke realised aloud.

“I trust your instincts, Clarke.” Lexa said, her hand once again reaching out to her own. “I trust you.”

Clarke twisted her hand into Lexa's, letting their hands lock together. The brunette seemed to stare down at their hands in fascination.

The Skaikru were part of the coalition now. Their place cemented by the brand Kane now wore upon his arm. She trusted that Lexa wouldn't betray them, that the Commander would do everything she could to keep them safe.

“I trust you too.” The blonde admitted quietly and the atmosphere between them seemed to shift. “You should sleep Lexa.” Clarke said with a squeeze of her hand.

Lexa shook her head, looking back up at her. “There are still things to do-”

“There is a time for many words and there is also a time for sleep. Clarke said, repeating back the words Lexa had used on her the night Mount Weather had been destroyed by Nia.

A smile twitched at the other woman's mouth. “That saying, it is from a story-” She started to explain.

“The Odyssey.” Clarke interrupted and Lexa looked at her in bewilderment. “I used to read it on the Ark.”

Looking around the room, Lexa stood from her seat, dropping Clarke's hand in the process. Her long legs walked towards the draws pushed against the side of the room. There were books stacked on top, and Lexa touched the spines of each one until finding the one she was looking for.

“Here.” The brunette said, handing the book to Clarke.

The pages were well read, the corners turned and the paper fading to yellow from the white still peaking through the seem. It smelt old. Careful of the aged paper, Clarke flipped back through the pages until she came to the title.

“The Odyssey of Homer”

“We grew up reading the same stories.” Clarke marvelled quietly. She still remembered sitting on her dad's knee as he told her the stories of the world before theirs.

“There is a collection below the tower, maybe one day-” Lexa paused, and Clarke thought she looked nervous. “Maybe one day-”

The knocking at the door interrupted them.

All trace of nervousness was gone from Lexa's face as her expression hardened. “Come in.” She barked.

Clarke shouldn't have been surprised to see the disapproving glare of Titus walking through the door.

“What is it Titus?” Lexa asked, but all Titus did was look between them. Clarke could practically see the shake of Lexa's body. “Speak!”

“I'm sorry, Heda. I thought it would be prudent to do a count of the guard. Thirty are missing from the tower.” He explained. The blonde felt her shoulders drop. She wasn't surprised, but she had hoped that maybe Nia had managed to escape on her own without the tower guards betraying Lexa.

“Did they help Nia escape?” Clarke asked, voicing her concern.

Titus scowled at her again. “Most likely.” He replied tersely, continuing to look at her with clear disdain.

“Is there anything else?” Lexa prompted again.

“Yes. Magnus has returned with his hunting party. The horses in the stables had their tack sabotaged, they were not making quick enough progress on foot.”

“And Roan?”

“Still not awake. The healers have finished dressing his wounds, they have said he needs rest.” He reported. Clarke almost sighed disappointedly, she had been hoping Roan would have woken up so they could find out exactly what had happened to the man. “Heda, we must convene the war council at once-”

“No.” Clarke interrupted. Without Roan or Anya awake enough to tell them what had happened the war council would bring them nothing they didn't already know.

“That is not a decision for you to make, Wanheda.” Titus sneered, his eyes glaring at her again. Clarke felt herself bristle with anger.

“And it's not yours either.” The blonde replied, having to consciously stop herself from standing from the couch to confront him.

“Enough.” Lexa rubbed her hands over her face before she looked between them both. “The war council will be convened in the morning once I have spoken to King Roan. There is nothing we can do tonight.”

“But Heda-” Titus started.

“I said in the morning, Titus.” Lexa snapped. Exhaustion was starting to creep across the woman's features. “Make sure Roan is suitably guarded, and increase the guard on Ontari. Luna's people should already be preparing the Mountain Man for transfer. Have the wood patrols increased, no less that three per party.” She continued to rattle off.

“As you command, Heda.” He conceded, bowing his head, but still managing to give Clarke one last glare before he left the room.

“You should sleep, Lexa.” Clarke pushed again, and she was surprised to see Lexa nod in agreement.

“As should you.” Lexa replied, before she creased her brow and looked at Clarke. “Anya is in your bed.”

A reckless thought crossed Clarke's mind. Despite herself, her eyes briefly glanced at the huge bed that occupied the other side of Lexa's room. She was sure it was bigger than her cell on the Ark. Big enough for both of them to sleep in without even knowing the other was there. It was one thing to share a tent with Lexa, but to share a bed-

“I can stay in her room.” Clarke quickly offered.

 The throne room was empty, but Clarke still felt the crushing weight of everyone's eyes on her.

“There was nothing I could do.” Roan gruffed from the doorway, his arms dropping Anya's lifeless body onto the floor. Clarke tried to sprint towards her, desperately trying to make her body move faster than the crawl her muscles were allowing.

Clarke dropped to her knees at bruising pace.

“Anya!” She called out. The woman's lips were tinged with blue, her eyes completely unseeing as they stared up at the ceiling. “No, no, no no.” Clarke plead. “Anya wake up, come on.”

Clarke's whole body froze. She hadn't heard anyone behind her. The room had been empty except for her. Yet somehow there was a cold blade pressing into her the skin of her throat and a hand gripping onto her shoulder.

“You lose, Wanheda.” Nia's voice cruelly whispered into her ear.

 “How's the life of a King treating you?” Clarke asked.

Roan let out a gruff bark of laughter from where he rested against the head board. The action had him wincing and clutching his damaged ribs in an instant.

“How's the life of a healer treating you?” He questioned in return. Clarke didn't miss the way Lexa was looking between them curiously at the exchange.

Lexa had come to Anya's room that morning to wake her with a tray of breakfast. She hadn't told her straight away that Roan was awake, waiting until Clarke had finished most of the fruit she had brought her. Clarke suspected it was because the brunette knew as soon as Clarke heard the news she would be climbing out of bed and demanding to talk to the King.

“My patient looks better than you.” Clarke replied, studying the multiple cuts and bruises on Roan's bare torso. There was a larger piece of cloth wrapped almost completely around his middle with a light stain of red poking through where the blonde assumed the wound she had seen leaking down his body the night before was.

“Well, your patient was knocked out by a metal door, I've had half of Azgeda hunting me for the past three days.” He revealed.

It was then that Clarke noticed the various stages of healing on his wounds. Some of the bruises on his chest were already starting to fade to yellow, whilst the bruise across his cheek was still fresh and just starting to darken.

“This is the list of missing guards.” Lexa interrupted, handing Roan a piece of paper that Clarke hadn't seen in her hands. “Are those all you know to be loyal to Nia?”

He studied the list for a moment, before nodding. “Clarke's handmaiden too.”

“Pheme?!” The blonde exclaimed.

“Her parents are Ice Nation, she asked what she could do to help when I was brought to Polis.” He explained to her. “The girl is harmless.”

“But her dad's a guard?” Clarke said, remembering her first conversation with the girl. There was no way her dad could be a guard and be from the Ice Nation. There were no Ice Nation guards in the tower.

Lexa looked between them both, her brow creasing. “We found her in the dead zone. She was dehydrated, barely alive. The guards that found her took sympathy on the girl and had her brought to the tower-”

The doors behind them flew open and immediately a warm arm was wrapping around Clarke's body. The moment the door had opened, Lexa had pushed Clarke behind her, ready to fend off any attack that was about to come through the door.

A second later, the brunette's hand relaxed its grip on her waist.

Looking over the other woman's shoulder, Clarke scowled at the sight of a disgruntled Anya in the doorway.

Clarke folded her arms and stepped around the woman that had just tried to protect her. “I thought you were told to stay in bed.” She accused.

“I was injured, I could not understand your language.” Anya replied, walking slowly into the room. Despite the General's best efforts, Clarke could still see the slight grimace on her face from every step she took.

“I told you in Trigedasleng, and you are still injured Anya.” Clarke said pointedly, but the other woman just grunted at her.

“Sit.” Lexa ordered, placing a chair next to Roan's bed.

“I'm fine-”

Lexa pushed the seat closer to her. “Now Anya.

Reluctantly Anya lowered her weight into the chair.

“Your mother still not ready to let go of the throne?” Anya asked Roan, her own eyes studying the various wounds that were littering his body.

“I don't think she appreciated me losing the fight, put a bit of a dampener on her plans.” He quipped lightly.

“What even happened in Azgeda, Roan?” Clarke asked, unable to pull her gaze away from his injuries. She had no idea how he had managed to carry Anya back to the throne room without passing out along the way. It must have been pure grit and determination that kept him awake long enough to deliver her to the floor closest to Lexa and her healers.

Groaning, Roan shifted himself further up the headboard. “I barely made it into Azgeda.” He revealed. “I was attacked just past the border. Thought they were bandits, except bandits do not wear the royal scars. Just my mothers assassins. I found your messenger dead on the road.” He directed to Lexa. “Nia is gathering an army, there are more travelling to join them. I tried to make it back to Polis to warn you, but by the time I made it into the tower it was too late.”

Lifting the paper in his hand, Roan pointed to one of the names. “I killed Nero, they had left him behind to finish you off.” He nodded towards Anya. “They escaped through the tunnels. Where were all your guards? The place was deserted.”

“They were on the upper floors for Emerson's trial.” Clarke explained to him.

Roan looked confused for a moment. “The man you had tied up in the middle of the room?”

“Yes. He was a decoy.” Lexa replied for her. “I had twenty guards assigned to protecting Nia's cell. I don't suppose it was a coincidence that only fifteen, all of whom happened to be supporters of your mother were assigned instead.”

Anya let out a growl, trying to push herself up out of the seat, only for Lexa's hand to push her back down again. “The prison captain. He told me the final five guards were on the way.” Anya muttered darkly. “He kept trying to get me to leave the cell room.”

“Was he the one that did that?” Clarke asked, pointing towards the woman's head.

“Nia called me over to her cell...” Anya scowled, her brow furrowing and Clarke wasn't surprised she was struggling to remember. “The door was already open.”

Lexa nodded, before sweeping out of the room, her coat billowing behind her. Clarke could just make out the muffled sound of her voice through the door, and the affirmative mumble of the guards agreeing to whatever it was she asked. She was back a moment later.

“He will be brought to the throne room, as will Pheme.” Lexa assured. “The war council will be convening in the next hour. Sleep, Roan, you will need your strength in the days to come. As will you Anya.”

“I'm not sleeping through the war council.” Anya bristled, her voice biting impatiently. With a barely concealed groan, she pushed herself out the chair. “Don't ask me to do this, Heda.” There was an unfamiliar tone of desperation in Anya's voice and for Clarke, everything clicked into place.

The General blamed herself. Nia had been under her watch when she escaped. Now the woman was scrambling to do something, anything, useful and Lexa wasn't letting her. It wasn't for the reason that Anya clearly believed though. She hadn't seen the frantic look in Lexa's eyes when she saw her former mentor unconscious. She hadn't seen how softly Lexa had looked down at her when she passed out in Clarke's bed.

“Clarke?” Lexa asked, the actual question going unsaid.

“You should be resting, but if you feel up to it you can sit in the war council.” Sliding her arm around Anya's side, Clarke let her lean her weight on her body. “Or I'll sedate you.”

Lexa opened the door for them, eyeing Anya nervously as Clarke helped her move out the room.

“I'd like to see you try, Sky girl.” The taller woman muttered.

“I've done it before.” With Lexa striding ahead of them barking orders at the guards, Clarke leaned in close to Anya, letting her voice drop to almost a whisper. “This wasn't your fault.”

The other woman grunted, and Clarke managed to twist her head enough to see the light sheen of tears that had appeared in her eyes. “Yes, it was.”

Chapter Text

 “Are you sure everything's okay, mom?” Clarke asked the older woman again.

After she had helped Anya into the throne room, the blonde had quickly returned to her own, making it just in time to pick up her mother's call on the radio.

“Everything's fine.” The other woman confirmed, but Clarke could hear the tension creeping into her tone. “I'm just tired, Raven's had a fall and Pike's...”

Lexa would be coming to collect her for the war council at any moment. Clarke didn't have time for her mother's hesitation. “Pike's what?” She pushed.

“He's pushing for an election, Clarke.”

Immediately panic started to prickle at the back of her neck and the blonde clenched her hand around the radio. “You can't.”

“If he gets enough support we won't have a choice.” Her mom explained, the resignation clear in her voice. "I've had to release him."

Clarke didn't ask why, she knew it was the right thing to do. If her mom kept Pike detained whilst support for him was growing, he was only going to use it against Kane in the election.

Taking her fingers off the receiver, Clarke had to take a heaving breath to stop herself from throwing the radio across the room. “Are you sure Kane can win?” She finally asked.

“He's trying, but- Not everyone trusts the Grounders.” Clarke let out a groan, her free hand coming up to rub at her temples. “They just need time, Clarke.”

“We don't have time for an election like this, mom.” She plead weakly.

With Nia escaping, she didn't have time to deal with the possibility of her people electing Pike. Clarke felt herself shudder at the thought. She had seen first hand the hate her former teacher had for the Grounders. He had been willing to kill the innocent army that was protecting Arkadia, if he was elected... Clarke felt another shudder travel up her spine at the prospect.

If her people found out about Nia's escape there was no telling what they would do. They had been happy enough when Clarke was there, but finding out the woman responsible for blowing up Mount Weather and killing their people had slipped through the Commander's grasp and was on the loose? She could only hope the people of Arkadia would be able to make the distinction. That they would be able to tell it was the Azgeda who were the threat and not the Grounders.

She hoped they wouldn't be as blinded by their fear of the unknown as Pike was by his hate.

A gentle knock sounding against the door was the only warning the blonde had before it was being pushed open.

“Clarke?” Lexa asked tentatively, walking into the room slowly. “It's time.”

Her mom was still talking through the radio, still defending her peoples attitude towards the Grounders when Clarke interrupted her. “Mom, I've got to go.”

“Is everything okay?” Her mother asked, repeating the very same question Clarke had pushed her on just moments ago.

“It's fine.” The blonde lied quickly. “I'll talk to you tomorrow, okay?”

Her mom barely had time to agree before Clarke was clicking the radio off. It was then that she became acutely aware of Lexa's gaze lingering on her.

“Are you okay?” Lexa asked, her head tilting slightly as her green eyes continued to study her.

Shaking her head, Clarke let her face fall into her hands. “No.”

There were other things to worry about outside of Pike's insistence at running an election. There was the prison captain and Pheme waiting to be questioned. There was the impending threat of Nia and her army. There was the vote for blood must not have blood. There was so much to do and Clarke just needed her people to trust her for five minutes to let her do it.

Letting out a heavy breath, Clarke let her hands fall away. “I'm sorry,” she apologised, “we should go.”

“No, we have time.” Lexa softly reassured her before she sat beside her on the bed. “Did you tell your people about Nia?”

“No.” Swallowing, the blonde shifted to face the other woman better. “You were right. My people react too quickly. If I'd told them Nia had escaped without knowing what the coalition plans to do there would have been too much panic. They would have made a mistake.”

Lexa nodded in understanding. “Your people are part of the coalition now, Clarke. It will protect them. I will protect them.”

“I know, it's just-” Clarke had to pause to blink back the frustrated tears in her eyes. “Why can't they just trust me? After everything- They know I'd do anything to protect them-”

“Because they are scared.” Lexa interrupted gently. “News of Nia's escape will spread quickly.”

Letting out a sigh, Clarke nodded. “I'll tell them tomorrow. I'll tell them about the true size of the army too.” She promised herself more than Lexa.

If Pike found out first it would just be more ammunition for him to force her mother and Kane into calling an election. She had seen the faces in the crowd at Arkadia. Hidden among the smiling faces and applauding hands were Pike's followers. Some of them had been obvious in their disdain and Clarke couldn't risk them falling into power.

After a moment of hesitation, Lexa's hand reached out to take hers. It was a comforting gesture that had started the night the Commander had bested Roan and Clarke knew that she should be sliding her hand away. That she should put a stop to the gesture that was becoming so familiar between them.

“The people of this coalition respect you, Clarke, even if your own people are too blind to do so. You always-” Pausing, the brunette squeezed at her hand. “You always have a place here in Polis if you need it.”

Clarke wasn't sure quite how the other woman managed it. How every time she thought the weight of her responsibilities or the weight of her past were about to crush her, Lexa was there to help her carry the load.

Green eyes stared into her own, and Clarke let her gaze dart between them. They were so unassuming. Asking for nothing in return from every act of kindness. Clarke tightened her grip on Lexa's hand, a small smile pulling at her mouth. “I would offer you the same at Arkadia...” She trailed off.

The tension that had been building between them seemed to dissipate when Lexa smiled at her. “Come, the meeting is about to begin.”

 Anya was still sitting where Clarke had left her. The woman's keen eyes were glaring around the room, almost daring any of the clans representatives to try and talk to her.

Taking her seat beside the still injured woman, Clarke ducked in close. “How are your ribs?” She asked quietly.


Clarke rolled her eyes. “And how are they actually?”

“They hurt when I move, and when I breathe.” Anya finally admitted, wincing as she shifted further up the seat.

“Thank you for tidying my room by the way.” The blonde quipped. When Clarke had returned to her room to talk to her mother, she had found Anya's clothes scattered on her floor and the furs kicked haphazardously at the end of the bed.

Anya just grunted, rubbing her hand over her side. “I was injured.”

“You still are injured, Anya.” Clarke replied, correcting her use of past tense once again.

The rest of the ambassadors and clan leaders were still filing into the room, quietly talking amongst themselves. It was the same collection of clans that had been at Emerson's trial the night before. All except Luna. A man Clarke had never seen before was sat in her seat instead, and Clarke was glad the woman had apparently taken it upon herself to escort Emerson out of Polis.

The Rock Line's leader Magnus was already there, his eyes closed and his head resting back onto his seat. Clarke stared at him curiously for a moment, watching his thumb run over the beads he was holding in his hand.

Deep brown eyes suddenly opened and Clarke quickly diverted her attention away from the man, coughing awkwardly.

The shouts coming from the hall outside the throne room signalled the Commander's apprach.

“Did they manage to find them both?” The blonde quickly asked Anya as the whole room rose to their feet.

Out the corner of her eye, she could see the other woman shaking her head slightly. “Pheme fled the city before Nia did.”

The doors jolted open, revealing the strong figure of the Commander. Clarke sucked in a breath at the sight of her. Gone was the calm visage of a woman Clarke had been walking with just moments before. What had replaced it was an almost terrifying anger that was practically seeping from the pours of Commander's skin.

Without a word, the brunette marched straight past them all with Titus quick on her heels.

“Rise.” The Commander ordered before anyone had even had the chance to start dropping to their knee. “Bring him in.” She called and once again the doors swung open.

The man the Commander's guard dragged in was shackled, his feet tripping over themselves as they tried to keep up with his captors pace. Clarke didn't recognise his long greying hair, slick with sweat tangled with sticks and leaves, or the sharp angles of his ageing face. When he looked around the room, she could see the bruising forming around his left eye, the sensitive skin already starting to swell shut.

“Carlo kom Boudalan.” The Commander sneered, looking down at the man with disdain. “You are captain of the prison guard, so tell me how it came to be that Nia escaped under your watch?”

He didn't respond, his eyes looking resolutely at the ground.

Magnus's chair fell back, the heavy wood thudding loudly against the floor. In two long strides the hulking man was in front of Carlo and without a word his hand slammed across the kneeling man's face. Clarke felt her stomach roll when a tooth tumbled across the floor, blood instantly dribbling from the man's mouth. The same large hand grabbed the captives chin, forcing him to look up at the seething Rock Line leader.

Heda asked you a question and you will answer.” He threatened, twisting the man's jaw away from him.

“Coin and protection.” Carlo answered quietly, his eyes still refusing to look at his Heda.

“You are a captain, is the pay not enough for you?” The Commander asked, doing nothing to interfere with Magnus's treatment of the man.

“No, the pay is enough.” Carlo replied quickly this time.

“Then it was greed.” The brunette fumed, her hand gripping at the arms of her throne.

The prison captain's head bowed even lower in shame. “Yes, Heda.”

“And what was it Nia asked for in return?” The Commander questioned, but Clarke knew Lexa had probably already figured out exactly what Nia had requested of Carlo.

“She gave me a list of guards she wanted assigned that night, and-” He looked nervous as he visibly swallowed. “She asked me to leave her cell open.”

Clarke had to remind herself that in front of all these people she wasn't Clarke Griffin. In front of the members of the coalition she was Wanheda. The slayer of the Mountain. That she wasn't allowed to reach out and comfort Anya when her whole body tensed at Carlo's confession.

Magnus let out a deep growl and this time Clarke didn't flinch when his hand punched into Carlo's face again. “Your greed has brought us war!” He bellowed.

“I didn't know, I didn't-” Carlo sat back, his hands still bound in front of him. Desperately he tried to push himself away from the towering form of Rock Line's leader.

Enough, Magnus.” The Commander calmly requested, rising from her throne to stand over the cowering man. “You have betrayed not only your people, Carlo kom Boudalan. You have betrayed this coalition,” Carlo whimpered loudly, his chin quivering, “and you have betrayed me.” She added darkly.

Carlo was already begging, pushing himself back onto his knees and pleading for his Heda to have mercy on him. It was pathetic really and Clarke couldn't find it in herself to feel the slightest sympathy for the man. He had sold out the coalition based on the promise of coin and then been left behind by Nia during her escape.

He was just another pawn Nia had abandoned on the way.

“Enough.” The Commander ordered tightly, her jaw tensing. “There is no redemption, there is no second chance for you, Carlo kom Boudalan. You will be banished. To beyond the Dead Lands, where you will live out the rest of the days remembering that your greed has cost this coalition its peace.”

Clarke let out a breath she didn't know she was holding. Despite the anger that Clarke knew must have been burning Lexa inside out, the brunette had resisted the temptation to call for his death. The Commander was still heeding the call of blood must not have blood.

“I'm sorry, Heda, I didn't know!”

Clarke was seething. He hadn't known? At what point did he think anything good would come of the captive Ice Queen asking for her cell to be left open. Nia's whole plan would have fallen apart if Carlo hadn't accepted her bribe. If his greed for more money hadn't blinded him to the safety of everyone around him.

“And what the hell did you think she was going to do with an open cell!” Clarke suddenly raged.

The whole room seemed to drip with tension at her outburst. Everyone's gaze had turned to stare at her. Everyone was seeing why she had been called Wanheda. Everyone was seeing the rage that lurked inside her. Clarke almost sunk into herself, she felt small, tiny under their intense gazes-

“Please, Wanheda-”

“Take him away.” The Commander ordered the guards and quickly the room's attention was diverted back to the woman standing tall in front of her throne.

Ignoring the pleas of Carlo as he was dragged from the room, Magnus pulled his chair upright again. “The Boudalan apologise for his actions, Heda.” He said regretfully.

The Commander nodded before she returned to her own seat. “It was not the Boudalan that betrayed this coalition, Magnus.”

“No,” one of the Broad Leaf clans leaders suddenly interrupted. His eyes and hair were dark, but his skin was an almost ghostly shade of pale with the only colour coming from the three little circles tattooed on either side of his nose. “It is you, your guards have betrayed, Heda.”

“Something that had not escaped my attention.” The Commander replied dryly.

Standing up the man made his way to the centre of the room. “Then maybe your guard should be made an example of.”

Anya clicked her knuckles. “Be careful how you tread.” The General threatened darkly.

“It is just the members of the Broad Leaf jury,” he said, indicating to the two other members that remained seated. “Find it interesting that it would be only our clan that suffered the loss of its ambassador Why is it that you chose to execute Uzac, yet you will not execute others that deserve the same fate?”

Clarke could see the tensing on the Commander's jaw from her seat. “Your ambassador was not executed-”

“He died by your hand did he not?” The man pressed and the Commander's nostrils flared at the interruption.

“Uzac was not the intended target.” She said through clenched teeth. Clarke could tell her patience was starting to wear dangerously thin.

“So you made a mistake?”

Clarke flinched when the Commander suddenly rose from her throne again. The brunette's steps were heavy as she made her way towards the Broad Leaf member. “If you have something to say then say it, we do not have time for your petty squabble.”

“Now is not the time for jus nou drein jus daun, the Broad Leaf will not support it.” He said, finally revealing the true intent of his interruption.

Clarke saw the way Titus's face lit up. It was unsurprising to her that the man quickly jumped the to their defence. “The Yujleda are right, Heda, to pursue such things now-”

“I will not let Nia's war dictate my policy!” The Commander snarled, ignoring Titus. With her teeth still clenched, the brunette advanced on Yujleda representative in front of her, forcing him to step back. “The vote will go ahead regardless of Nia's provocations, and you will respect the coalitions decision.” The man blinked his mouth falling open silently, clearly not expecting the intensity of his Heda's gaze. Clarke wondered if he or any of the men with him had ever been confronted with the Commander's rage before. “Have I made myself clear?”

The member from the Broad Leaf's jury backed away further. “Yes, Heda.” He confirmed shakily, his head bowing. With his mouth still clearly quivering, he returned to his seat without another word.

It wasn't unexpected. Lexa had already told Clarke that she couldn't be sure every clan would be welcoming to the new turn she had taken in policy. It was surprising for the blonde to see such defiance happening so openly though.

“Why are your people against jus nou drein jus daun?” Clarke questioned, managing to keep the nerves out of her voice as all eyes fell on her again.

The man that had just challenged Lexa looked shocked, his mouth opening and closing a few times before he shifted uncomfortably in his seat.

“Are you going to answer, Wanheda?” Magnus asked, his wide body turning to face the Broad Leaf representatives.

Coughing, the man finally replied. “Because it is weak.”

“So you think I'm weak?” Clarke challenged straight back.

The man's already ghostly white features visibly paled.

“Because it has always been our way.” Titus answered for him. Clarke she didn't miss the way Lexa glared at him at his interruption.

Anya scoffed from beside her. “It also used to be your way to kill everyone that fell from the sky.”

“A decision some of us still agree with.” Another of the Broad Leaf's members replied.

“Enough!” The Commander interrupted before the argument could escalate any further. “We are here because Nia will be arriving back into Azgeda within the next day. She will want to strike quickly, before the full force of this coalitions army can be mustered. Our army must be ready to meet her.”

It was Magnus that rose from his seat first. “I have sent word to my generals, their forces will already be travelling to Polis as we speak.”

“Numbers?” The Commander asked him.

“Four hundred warriors march, two hundred will remain within our capital.”

“Messengers have been sent to Leader Melissa,” The new Glowing Forests ambassador announced, her flowing red hair pulled across her shoulder. “You have her support in all matters, Heda.” Her gentle voice confirmed whilst she stared pointedly at the three members of the Broad Leaf.

“The Council of Delphi will see to it that their best warriors are sent, Heda. Their support for you does not waiver either.” The ambassador of the Delphi offered, and Clarke was glad to hear a similar promise of support.

Truthfully, she couldn't be sure if their declarations were genuine or if it was just to secure their Heda's favour in the days to come. In the end it didn't matter though. As long as the Commander could hold their support for the next three days, the vote for blood must not have blood would be secured.

The Blue Cliff's Chief had been silent for the whole meeting, but he too stood. “The Pistcataway have not fought in many years, Heda.” He muttered. “Most of our best warriors were killed by the man who used to stand in your place, not enough have risen to replace them. The weapons of the Blue Cliff may still be useful.”

“Have them sent straight to Polis,” The Commander requested, before turning back to the Rock Line's leader. “Magnus-”

“I will have a complete guard sent straight there.” He said, already pre-empting the Commander's request for protection.

“And the Skaikru?” Titus asked.

Clarke glared up at him.

As Lexa advisor he would likely know that the blonde didn't want her people involved in the war that wasn't of their making. Clarke also knew as a member of the coalition it wasn't a choice though. Her people couldn't reap the benefits the coalition was offering them and not expect to give something in return.

It was just like Clarke's agreement with Mae. Her people had to learn to do more than take. They had to give too.

The blonde rose to her feet. “The weapons of the Mountain Men are in our camp. They will be available for your use, Heda.” It was just another thing she was going to have to tell her mother in the morning and she could feel her dread growing at the thought of the conversation they were going to have.

Lexa nodded, regret flashing across her face for only an instant. “The forces of the Trikru are already being rallied, they will protect the border whilst our army gathers.”

The meeting had continued much the same way, the Commander asking questions of each representative to understand exactly what each clan could offer and when they could move them into the position she wanted. The same questions had been asked again when the ambassador for the Sankru had arrived. His offer of another hundred warriors changing the Commander's plan and dragging the conversation back to the start.

More generals and warriors would be arriving in Polis in the coming days, hundreds of them descending on the land around the city before they made their way to the Azgeda border. Lexa was leaving nothing to chance. If Nia didn't attack them, then the Commander was going to cut off her supplies until the Queen chose to fight or disband her army. Clarke wasn't sure how she managed it, so many people looking to her, so much information being processed through her mind for her to piece together a strategy for protecting the coalition.

She made it look easy.

 The sun was beginning to set in the sky by the time everything that could possibly be covered was. Food, shelter, even sources of hay for the horses that would be needed.

“Stay close to the tower.” Titus ordered from beside his Heda. “This coalition is at war, and we must act with the utmost urgency.”

Murmurs sounded around the room at Titus's dismissal and as everyone began to leave Clarke stayed in her seat beside Anya. “The Broad Leaf offered nothing.” She muttered to the woman.

“They have always been difficult, they believe themselves superior to the other clans.” Lexa announced from above her. Clarke smiled at the woman as she approached. “Anya, you should rest.”

“I'm fine.” She replied quickly, her back straightening in her seat.

“Rest, Anya.” Lexa ordered again, before her voice dropped to a softer tone. “I need you well.”

The two women stared at each other for a moment until Lexa held out her hand to help Anya pull herself up. They didn't embrace, but Clarke ducked her head away as Lexa whispered something into Anya's ear.

I promise you, Heda.” Anya replied in Trigedasleng, so softly that Clarke almost missed it.

Rising to her own feet, Clarke watched Anya leave, happy to see that her gait was bearing her weight better. If anything having the General trapped immobile in the throne room all day had probably helped her ribs more than letting her wonder the tower all day would have.

She was about to tell Lexa exactly that when she saw a look of confusion on the woman's face.

“Bran.” The Commander called out before the last two guards could leave the room. The man closest to them turned back to face her. "Shut the door."

The man Bran was partnered with lingered close behind him as they both approached their Commander.

"What is it, Heda?" Bran asked nervously.

Why were you not guarding the entrance to the tower the night the Ice Queen escaped?

His deep brown eyes creased in confusion. “You asked for me to be reassigned to the upper floors, Heda?

And who told you that?” The brunette asked, her own confusion creasing her brow.

Bran looked to the man standing beside him. “Jax.”

Movement jerked in the corner of Clarke's eye and before she could even think to turn her head, the air was exploding from her lungs. Her feet tripped from underneath her and the blonde grunted in pain when her elbow collided painfully with the floor.

Gripping onto her arm, Clarke looked up and nstantly, nausea was burning hot in her stomach.

The guard beside Bran had lodged his spear firmly into the man's throat. Bran himself was still blinking in surprise, his own spear dropping to the floor when his hands rose to his neck.

Just as suddenly as it appeared there, the spear tore out of Bran's neck, blood bubbling out of his mouth before his lifeless body crashed onto the floor. Clarke was sure it was more luck than skill that had Jax dodging under the blade of the Commander's dagger.

You are weak, Heda!” Jax cried, twisting his arm until the tip of the spear skimmed across the skin of the Commander's throat. “Queen Nia will paint this room black with the blood of your Nightblood's!”

Despite the longer reach of Jax's weapon, Lexa continued to push him back until he was almost at the doors. Wincing, Clarke pushed her body off the floor and practically crawled towards the downed guard.

“Lexa!” Clarke called, grabbing Bran's spear to throw to the woman she couldn't bear to lose.

Dropping to her knee, the brunette caught the spear with ease, her body twisting under another swipe of Jax's weapon.

It was over in an instant.

The next attack was a mistimed jab from Jax. With her years of experience, Lexa slipped past him easily, barely touching the staff of his spear. Jax never saw it coming, his own spear still held out in front of him as Lexa thrust Bran's spear backwards and straight into the cavity of his lungs.

With confused eyes, he stared down at the blade that was piercing through his body.

No. She won't.” Lexa snarled before she pulled the the spear from him and with a final wheezy breath, Jax collapsed to the floor.

Clarke was on her feet in a flash. “Lex- Lexa are you okay?” She rushed out.

With clammy hands, the blonde forced Lexa to look at her.

“I'm fine, I pushed you, I'm sorry.” Lexa apologised quickly, her own eyes darting over Clarke's body as her hands gripped onto her hips. “Are you hurt?”

It was just so unbelievably Lexa. The woman had almost been assassinated, yet here she was, her worried green eyes checking her for any sign of injury.

“I-” They were close, too close. Clarke could feel the heavy panting of Lexa's breath brushing across her face. “I...” Her eyes darted down to Lexa's parted lips, before looking into the green eyes that had all but disappeared behind the black of her pupils. “Lexa...”

“Heda!” Titus's voice echoed down the hallway and Clarke quickly stepped away from the woman.

It felt like her lungs were about to explode as her head spun. She'd almost kissed her. Just one more moment and Clarke would have been leaning in to capture Lexa's trembling lip with her own. She could still hear Titus running towards them and it was then she realised it was the blood he had seen. The wound on Jax's chest had quickly seeped under the doors of the throne room and into the hallway outside.

“Heda!” The man's voice cried again, moments before the doors crashed open, forcing Jax's body to slide along to floor. Clarke stumbled back even further from the woman when Titus rushed between them. “Are you injured, Heda?”

I'm fine, Titus-

You are bleeding.” The man fretted his hand reaching for Lexa's injured skin.

“Move,” this time it was Clarke moving him out the way, her eyes tracing the droplets of dark blood that were running down the woman's throat. “Let me look.”

I'll get the healers.” Titus said, already stepping towards the door.

No, I'll do it.” Clarke quickly contradicted, pulling at Lexa's arm to move her out the room.

Titus was glaring at her. Clarke could practically feel the burning of his stare. She couldn't care less though.

Lexa had almost died. Again. And Clarke's heart was thundering at the thought.

“No one comes in.” Clarke demanded the guards at the end of Lexa's hallway as she stormed past them.

 “Sit.” She ordered once the doors of the Commander's bedroom had closed behind her.

“It's just a scratch, Clar-”

“I said sit.” The blonde barked again.

Lexa reluctantly obeyed, her jaw setting slightly in defiance.

Clarke had never been into the wash room that linked onto Lexa's bedroom, but she found everything she needed quickly. Clean water was already sitting in the bowl on the side, and she ripped one of the clean cloths that sat in a pile in the corner of the room into strips before heading back out to Lexa.

Between Clarke leaving the room and returning with her supplies, Lexa had already stripped out of her coat. "I told you to sit."

"I told you it was just a scratch." Lexa replied tersely, but Clarke ignored her.

A deep hum came from the other woman's chest when Clarke tilted her chin up to wipe away the drying blood. The cut was thinner than Clarke had feared, and she realised that Lexa had been right, it was just a scratch. Her hands dropped away, but she couldn't stop staring at the dark line that stained the other woman's skin.

It was just a graze. A mere mark upon the Commander's skin.

Clarke traced it with her eyes until the fluttering of Lexa's pulse caught her attention. Everyone had one. The steady up and down of skin that signalled blood was pumping through the body. That signalled they were alive. It reminded her then of what Lexa really was. She wasn't invincible, she wasn't a God that was sent to protect her people. If Lexa was cut she would bleed. If Lexa was hurt she could die. Lexa was just skin, and flesh, and bone, and she was just so fragile.

She was just human.

Clarke could feel an emotion she didn't dare name threatening to overwhelm her and she couldn't stop herself from lifting her hand up to Lexa's throat again.

“Clarke?” Lexa whispered, but the blonde ignored her, reaching forwards until she could trace the thin line of black that crossed her skin.

“You almost died.” Clarke practically whimpered.

“But I didn't.” The other woman muttered back quietly, her hand pulling Clarke's away from her neck.

Clarke shook her head. “But you could have, Lexa.”

“Everyone must die one day, Clarke. It's the only thing we can be certain of.” Lexa tried to comfort, her voice still low and soft. “You do not need to be afraid. If this war kills me the next Commander will protect you.” A sad smile pulled at Lexa's lips. “They'll protect your people.”

Rubbing her own hand against her neck, Lexa stood from her seat. “It has been a long day, you should rest.” She said before walking away from her and disappearing into the wash room.

It was a dismissal. Lexa wasn't expecting her to be there when she got back, but Clarke couldn't move. She couldn't stop the tears that welled in her eyes either. After everything that had happened, after all the soft touches and hushed words shared between them Lexa still believed that Clarke didn't care for her.

It made her heart ache deep within her chest because she wasn't sure when it had shifted, when the exact moment in time had occurred, but she did care. She cared that it was Lexa who was Commander. It didn't matter if it was Aden, or if it was Luna or if it was any other of the nightbloods that would do anything she asked, none of them could possibly take Lexa's place.

Clarke wasn't sure if she would ever forgive Lexa for what happened on the Mountain. She wasn't sure if she would ever forgive her for the pain and the crushing loneliness of the three months that followed. But Clarke knew she would never forgive herself if Lexa was torn away from her before she could tell her the truth. Before she could tell her that she didn't want someone that would sacrifice everything for her. She wanted someone that made her feel like every sacrifice she had to make was worth it.

Clarke's body moved without her even realising and she held her breath as she stood beside Lexa's bed, waiting for the woman to come back into the room. Minutes could have turned into hours and hours could have turned into days, but Clarke still stood there until the brunette stepped back around the corner.

Lexa had already taken her braids out, her long brown hair hanging loosely over her shoulder. The fingers the other woman was still dragging through her curls froze when she spotted Clarke still standing there.

She looked beautiful and Clarke didn't try to stop the thought, she just let her eyes take in the way the dipping sun caught Lexa's skin.

“What's wrong?” The other woman asked, the concern clear in her voice.

Slowly, Lexa walked closer and Clarke almost laughed because there was so much that was wrong. There was so much that was twisting out of her control, and there was so much pressure building inside of her from the weight of it that she just wanted to to scream.

There was so much that was wrong, yet Lexa had been right there beside her trying to fix it. Just like she had promised her the night she had fallen to her knees and sworn fealty to her.

“I don't want another Commander.” Clarke confessed brokenly, closing the distance between them as tears threatened to overcome her. “I don't want-”

The green of Lexa's eyes were shining bright in the waning sunlight. Standing so close, Clarke could see the little flecks of blue that were dotted through out her iris. She could see the way her pupils were slowly dilating, threatening to overtake everything standing in their path.

Tentatively, Clarke reached her hand up to the other woman's cheek. Wide eyes looked at her. All the words the brunette couldn't say, all the feelings that she had scrambling to escape her all shone through so clearly to Clarke.

“I want you, Lexa.” Clarke whispered, her head tilting forwards, her lips desperate to push against Lexa's. "I want you."

The first touch was delicate, barely even there, just Lexa's lips ghosting across her own. It was almost like their first kiss. Just a soft dance of almost there pressure. With shaking hands, Lexa's warm palm cupped her cheek and Clarke never wanted it to end. She never wanted to stop feeling Lexa against her.

It was exactly why she let out a disappointed groan when it was Lexa pulling away first.

Without opening her eyes, Clarke let her forehead rest against the other woman's as she just let herself breathe. Roan had asked her what she wanted. And it was this. She wanted the woman that had never doubted her. The woman that never blamed her or judged her for the things she had to do. Clarke wanted the woman that had always understood her.

Still feeling entirely more dazed than a single kiss should make her, Clarke opened her eyes.

There was a single tear falling down Lexa's face, but it might as well have been a waterfall to Clarke. It wasn't enough. She wanted it. She wanted all of it and she was going to take it. She was going to give in and take something for herself.

Clarke barely heard it. The faintest of gasps leaving Lexa's mouth when she pulled her back in, her hands tangling in the other woman's hair. The blonde couldn't help moaning, her whole body quaking as Lexa's hips collided clumsily with her own.

Lexa's tongue slid effortlessly against her bottom lip and Clarke let out another moan before she pulled the quaking woman even closer.

It was easy to lose herself in the sensation of Lexa's kisses. To forget everything. Clarke almost stumbled back when the other woman continued to push into her. Still Lexa's lips quivered against her own though and Clarke gasped against her mouth when she tasted the subtle salt of Lexa's tears.

“It's okay.” Clarke found herself saying as she pulled back, and she wasn't sure if it was for her or Lexa. “It's okay.”

This time it was Lexa that pulled her in, her long fingers gripping onto the back of her neck. The brunette dragged her lips across Clarke's until she was prying them open so she could swipe her tongue inside. Clarke's knees almost buckled at the feeling.

The blonde's hands were restless, gripping and tugging at Lexa's top and suddenly Clarke knew what she wanted. What she needed.

Reaching behind Lexa's neck, Clarke let her fingers find the clasp of the other woman's top, making quick work of the metal to unhook it in moments. Lexa shifted her arms, letting Clarke pull the top up until it was falling to the floor behind her. The material that Lexa used as a bra quickly followed it.

There were bumps, tiny nicks and scars all over the length of the other woman's back and Clarke groaned at the feel of her fingers tracing each and every one.

“Lexa.” Clarke whispered. The other woman's fingers pulled her arms away, only to tug them forwards as she stepped back towards the bed.

It was too far for Clarke's needy mind. Lexa hadn't even made it back a step when the was forcing her lips against hers again, desperate to ingrain the taste of Lexa in her memory. Clarke hummed at the contact, trying to chase it all the way back until Lexa dropped onto the bed and out of reach.

Clarke could see the disbelief in Lexa's eyes. She could see the admiration. She could see the love in the other woman's stare. Shifting her legs to bracket Lexa's thighs, the blonde pushed her back until she was flat upon the bed, her lips moving compliantly beneath her once more.

It was too much for Clarke to resist. She marvelled at the way Lexa shivered underneath her as she dragged her hand up the woman's bare side. Despite the way Lexa was shifting against her, the blonde still pulled back, her hand resting just below Lexa's breast. She waited for the panting woman's nod of consent before she dared move any further. Clarke groaned when Lexa covered her hand with her own, pulling it up until it was palming the soft flesh.

The brunette was still hesitant underneath her though. Despite Clarke's movement's against Lexa's chest, the other woman's hands were barely touching her, only skirting the edge of her top before falling away. Clarke appreciated the sentiment, she truly did. She knew it was just Lexa trying to give her exactly what she wanted and nothing more. This wasn't what Clarke wanted though. She wanted Lexa on top of her, she wanted Lexa to show her exactly how much she felt for her.

“You can touch me.” Clarke whispered against Lexa's lips before sitting up on her lap. She smiled when this time it was Lexa chasing after her.

When Clarke playfully lifted her chin away, Lexa's lips started kissing fervently at her neck instead. The other woman's hands still remained glued to her hips though, refusing to dip under her top and touch her bare skin. It was too much, and without a second thought Clarke covered Lexa's hands with her own as she dragged them up her own body, letting the other woman's palms bunch up the material of her shirt.

“Please, Lexa.” She almost begged.

Clarke couldn't help feeling a shameless flare of pride when Lexa's eyes widened at the sight of her almost bare torso. With her hands still shaking, Lexa pushed the material further until it was over Clarke's head and falling on the floor behind them. The brunettes gaze continued to linger on the swell of her chest.

“Can I...” Lexa began to ask, but Clarke was already nodding her head and reaching behind herself to unhook the basic clasp that was holding her bra together.

The material was barely off before Lexa was darting forwards and Clarke practically melted at the feel of her mouth closing around one of her nipples. Clarke buried her hands in Lexa's hair, pulling her in further as she moaned against the breast she was suckling against.

Slowly, Lexa worked her mouth over Clarke's breast, her lips, tongue and teeth working in tandem upon the increasingly sensitive bud. Clarke hadn't even realised her hips were bucking against the woman beneath her until Lexa's fingers were digging into the soft flesh to hold her in place.

Clarke should have expected it. The sudden flip of her body as Lexa twisted her until she was flat on her back. Lexa's lips never left her chest though, and Clarke sighed in contentment when the brunette switched to the other breast, kissing a trail between the dip of her cleavage as she went.

Clarke could feel the uncomfortable slick building between her thighs and she was about to nudge Lexa's head away from her chest when the woman pulled back on her own.

Lexa's lips were swollen and red from their ministrations against her breasts, but despite what she had just been doing, Clarke could see the hesitance in her gaze.

“What is it?” Clarke asked, trying her best to ignore the way the cool air was causing her nipple to tighten even further. Lexa didn't answer, not with words at least, and Clarke groaned at the feeling of her fingers tracing the waistband of her trousers. “You too?”

The woman above her nodded before shifting to the end of the bed. Clarke stared up at the ceiling completely overwhelmed, just letting herself listen to the buckle unclipping on Lexa's trousers and boots. Her whole body shuddered when Lexa began to unbutton her own trousers, her lips pressing kisses to her legs as she dragged the rough material down her thighs.

It was then that Lexa paused again, her fingers hooking around the last piece of clothing on Clarke's body. The brunette didn't move them when Clarke nodded though, and Clarke was sure her body was just about to combust when Lexa dropped a kiss onto her still clothed centre.

“Ah, Lexa...” She moaned, her eyes now unable to leave the other woman's as she pulled the sodden material off her.

The cool air immediately chilled the heat of her and Clarke groaned, low and deep, when Lexa's hand came up to cup her.

“Is this okay?” The other woman whispered to her, the pressure of her hand increasing. Clarke wasn't sure how Lexa was expecting her to answer, especially when the heel of her palm started rocking against her slightly. “Clarke?”

“Yes, I-” Lexa's palm slipped up higher again, before pushing back down onto her. “Oh God-”

The gentle movement of Lexa's hand continued, and Clarke was certain she was going to go insane at the feel of it. She would complain, maybe tell Lexa to go faster, but the words were lost in her throat as the other woman's lips gently played over her pulse point.

Lexa's long fingers started to dance through the ever increasing wetness that was gathering between her folds and Clarke opened her legs further, desperate for Lexa to dip them lower. Her eyes were already rolling back into her head and she was suddenly aware of just how keyed up she was. Another rough rub of Lexa's palm had a moan tearing from her throat, but it wasn't enough, she needed more.

“Lexa, I need, I nee-” Clarke's words tumbled into nothing at the feeling of the other woman gently pushing a single finger inside of her.

Clarke.” Lexa whimpered, her hand frozen in place as she trembled on top of the blonde.

The brunette's finger was barely past the first knuckle, just barely resting inside of her and already Clarke thought she was about to lose control completely. She needed more though. She needed to feel Lexa's body hot a slick with sweat, moving against her. With a frustrated whimper, Clarke rolled her hips, desperate for Lexa to start moving.

“Clarke.” Lexa quietly moaned again and Clarke felt the hot splash of tears against her skin.

Despite the overwhelming hum of need between her legs, Clarke pulled Lexa's head up to look at her.

She was beautiful.

Even as her green eyes shone with fresh tears and her mouth quivered uncontrollably she was beautiful.

“Lexa...” Clarke whispered, her thumb wiping away the tracks on her face. “I...” The words that were threatening to spill out of her caught in her throat again.

Dropping her head forwards, Lexa groaned into the side of neck as her finger finally moved deeper. Clarke's whole body arched, her neck straining uncontrollably. She had to look at her, she had to see Lexa's face.

With a gentle tug on the brunette's hair, Lexa shifted back until she was hovering just above Clarke's face. Lexa didn't keep her waiting this time. Without any of her earlier hesitation, the woman's finger started to slide back and forth within Clarke.

It was the tip curling and dragging against her front wall that had Clarke cussing.

Lexa's breath was coming in pants. Her pupils blowing so wide, Clarke could barely see any green left at all.

“Kiss me.” She ordered, and in an instant Lexa's lips were on hers again.

A startled moan trembled across her lips when Lexa added a second without warning. The other woman pulled back slightly, checking Clarke's reaction before she continued in earnest.

Clarke's hips were rolling on their own accord, desperately trying to pull Lexa's fingers even deeper. Her hands were gripping at the furs underneath her, trying fruitlessly to keep herself grounded. The blonde's whole body was humming with need. It was overwhelming and Clarke felt like she was burning from the inside out. Everything from the gentle sound of Lexa's fingers moving within her to the sound of her breath hot against her ear had Clarke tittering on the edge.

The blonde gasped again when Lexa's fingers sank even deeper. The next moment, the woman's hand was contorting as she moved her palm away only to quickly replace it with her thumb.

“Lexa, I can't-”

It wasn't going to take long, but Clarke didn't want it to be over, and she fought against the clenching of her walls and the tensing of her stomach.

“Let go Clarke.” Lexa whispered into her ear and it was pointless to even try any more.

Pleasure exploded through Clarke, her toes curling painfully into the furs as her whole world collapsed in on itself. Soft lips played against hers, but Clarke could barely kiss back, not when Lexa's fingers were still coaxing more and more pleasure out of her with every single curl.

It felt like it went on forever, the crashing waves of her orgasm threatening to drown her completely, but eventually Lexa's fingers brought her back down before they slipped out of her. They didn't travel far though and Clarke groaned when they started lazy broad circles around her aching bundle of nerves.


“Shhhh...” She breathed into Clarke's ear. “Let me take care of you.”

“You already have...” Clarke sighed back, her hand lazily playing with Lexa's hair as the woman continued to kiss at her collar bone.

Her kisses started to dip lower after that and Clarke caught on to exactly what Lexa meant when she dipped her tongue into her belly button. Without even thinking the blond's hands had tangled into her thick brown locks, pushing Lexa lower.

There was no hesitation, no hot drip of tears against her thighs.

Instead there was just Lexa's tongue lashing against her. It was going to be over far too quickly and Clarke had to clamp her hand over her mouth as Lexa sucked at her clit, her tongue lapping at it straight afterwards. There was an urgency to her movements, and Clarke felt the familiar clench in her stomach when she looked down to see Lexa's own hips rocking against the bed.

“Lexa,” She whimpered, pulling at the woman's hair until she looked up at her. The sight of that almost had Clarke coming again. Helplessly, her hips twitched up into the caress of Lexa's mouth a few more times until she managed to get herself under control. “Come here.” She requested and Lexa did as instructed, giving her clit one last kiss before moving up her body.

Kind of.

But Clarke wasn't going to complain about the gentle bites Lexa was peppering over her skin as she slowly made her way back up. She almost lost her entire train of thought when the woman's mouth latched on to her nipple, suckling against the stiff peak until Clarke wasn't sure how her body could arch so spectacularly.

“Lex.” Clarke mewled again, pulling once more on her hair until her body finally came over to cover hers, her legs slotting perfectly between Clarke's open thighs. A groan rumbled through both of them when Lexa slid against her, and Clarke could feel the wetness that had been gathering between the other woman's thighs.

It was Clarke that started the rocking, a gentle thrust of her hips that had her rubbing against Lexa. The brunette seemed to catch on to exactly what Clarke wanted all too quickly. With a groan, Lexa moved her leg to straddle one of Clarke's thighs, pushing the other up into Clarke's heat.

Clarke could feel the taught muscles in Lexa's leg tensing as they writhed together, the friction building between them with every thrust of their hips. There was still the faint taste of herself against Lexa's lips when she kissed her, her tongue rolling against her own in time to their movements.

“Clarke.” Lexa sighed softly as she dropped her head into the crock of Clarke's neck, and Clarke moaned at the feel of teeth nibbling onto her earlobe. “Clarke...” She repeated.

The blonde would never tire of hearing Lexa say her name. She would never tire of the soft skin sliding against her own. She would never tire of loving the woman that was moving against her so erratically.

“I've got you.” Clarke whispered back, her nails digging into the flesh of Lexa's hips and it was apparently all Lexa needed as her body tensed against her own. Every single muscle became iron, and Clarke lost her own grip on reality when Lexa let out the softest of whimpers next to her ear before she was coming.

It was enough for Clarke too, the trembling of Lexa's body, the hot moaning breaths, all of it accumulating until her body couldn't take it any more.

I love you was her last thought before the pleasure spiking through her caused her mind to stop functioning completely.

Chapter Text

 “Their blood is on your hands.”

Clarke gasped as her eyes flew open, the light of the room instantly making her squint. It had been another dream, another memory of the people she had let die.

Blinking her eyes open again, Clarke took in her surroundings whilst she tried to bury the image of her mother blaming her for the deaths at Ton DC again. The light from the early morning sun was streaming through the window behind her creating a warm glow of orange across the room. It took the blonde a few more dazed moments to realise exactly where she was and why her muscles ached so pleasantly.

She was in Lexa’s room.

It took another moment for her to realise her arm was wrapped across someone’s waist and she smiled at the mess of brown hair in front of her.

Lexa shuffled backwards, letting out a content sigh when her back came into contact with Clarke’s body.

“It’s early.” The brunette mumbled sleepily.

Smiling anew, Clarke leant forwards to brush her lips across her new lover's exposed shoulder. “Then go back to sleep.” She whispered as the last remnants of her dream drifted away.

“Titus will be worried.” Lexa sighed and despite the woman having her back to her, Clarke couldn’t help raising her eyebrow.

“Is that really who you’re thinking about right now?” She asked, kissing at Lexa’s shoulder once more.

“He was not my first thought, no.” The other woman mumbled, moving her body back even further. "Did you have another dream?"

Pausing, Clarke let her hand splay over Lexa's stomach, marvelling at how soft the skin was for a moment. “Ton DC." She answered simply.

Lexa let out a deep hum in response, the noise practically rumbling through her back. A sigh slipped past Clarke's lips at the sensation. Both of them were content to lie in silence, just listening to slowly awakening birds that had made their home on the towers exterior as they started their morning chorus.

Past the doors of the Commander's room there was so much worry, so much uncertainty and discord to contend with. Yet here, with Lexa in her arms, Clarke felt perfectly content. It was a moment of reprieve that would be broken the second they stepped outside, but it was one the blonde was willing to lose herself in for as long as possible.

Moving away from the warmth of Lexa's body, Clarke brushed away the hair that was cascading across the other woman's back. The tattoo that traversed the length of her spine looked even more beautiful up close, but it was the tattoo at the base of her neck that caught the curious woman's attention first.

An infinity symbol with broken lines on the right most edge was etched into the skin, with a scar intersecting straight through the middle. Clarke let her finger travel down the mark, smiling as Lexa leant her head back into the touch. It was old, and carefully stitched back together. An accident? Maybe, but Clarke wasn't sure exactly what could have caused such a perfect line. The previous Commander perhaps?

Her finger froze in place. There was so much she didn't know about Lexa. All the little scars that littered her body had a story, and Clarke couldn't help the sadness that washed over her at the thought of them. There were so many.

"He beat her until she could barely stand."

Anya's words played through her mind and she wondered if any of the marks were a reminder to Lexa of that time. If Lexa ever looked down at her body and remembered all the pain it had been through. Pushing her body close to Lexa's again, Clarke kissed at the raised skin of the scar, only pulling away again at the brunette's content sigh.

"I love your tattoos." Clarke whispered as she trailed her fingers down the length of Lexa's back, her other hand propping her head up.

"I got it on my Ascension Day, a circle for every Natblida that died when the Commander's spirit chose me." Lexa quietly explained.

Clarke's finger traced each circle, swirling around the pattern until she reached the base of Lexa's spine. "What were they like? The other novitiates?" Clarke asked, sleep still grating at her voice. The other woman took in a sharp breath though, and the blonde could feel the muscles tensing under her skin. "I'm sorry."

Clarke slid her arm underneath Lexa's neck, her other arm wrapping around her middle to pull her closer. The woman in front of her hummed at the renewed contact, her hands running up Clarke's arm.

"One day." Lexa murmured. Clarke understood perfectly well that there were some things about Lexa's past she might never be able to tell her, no matter how much she yearned to learn everything. Idly, Lexa's fingers started to trace the long scar running down the blonde's forearm. "How did you get this?" She asked quietly.

"Mount Weather." Clarke paused as her mind took her back to the overwhelming confusion she had felt when she awoke to stark white walls surrounding her. "The first time I was there." She quickly added.

Lexa's fingers traced their way back up towards her wrist. "Did they do it to you?"

"No, no I-" Clarke stuttered before biting on her lip. Parts of the story were already known to Lexa. Before they had lay siege to the Mountain, Clarke had told her about how the Mountain Men had taken them from the drop ship and held them in quarantine. She had also told her in vague detail about how she had broken out of the Mountain and freed Anya on the way. "When I woke up I was locked in a room. One of my friends, Monty, was in the one opposite mine. One day I woke up and he was gone."

"I'm sorry, Clarke." Lexa apologised, and Clarke quickly corrected her because despite what she thought at the time, Monty had been fine.

"He wasn't dead. They had just released him from the quarantine. I broke a window to open the door and some of the glass caught my arm." Her face fell when she remembered what had happened after that. "I took someone hostage and forced them to take me to him." Clarke explained, and she was glad Lexa was still facing away from her, because that someone was Maya. She hadn't known the girl, not really, but Clarke knew she had tried to help her friends. She had tried to help and Clarke had killed her.

Long fingers started to trace circles around the dots that marked the line of stitches that had been in her arm. "Why did it need stitching twice?" The brunette questioned and Clarke's eyebrows jumped in surprise at the woman for noticing.

"There was something... Off." She tried explain. "When they took me to the medical bay there was something about the way they were healing themselves that didn't make sense."

"So you used your existing injury to get back in there and find out what it was?" Lexa ventured.

"Yeah." The blonde confirmed.

Lexa let out a noise of approval, gently kissing part of the scar. "I'm impressed." A smile pulled across Clarke's lips as Lexa kept dotting more kisses up the damaged skin. "What about Anya? How did she escape with you?"

Clarke's brow furrowed. It had been months since the Mountain, she was sure Anya must have told Lexa the whole story of her escape by now. "She hasn't told you?"

"No, Anya-" Lexa paused, apparently searching for the right words to describe her old mentor. "She doesn't like to talk about such things. The past is in the past."

Clarke smiled at the familiar saying.

"I broke into the room next to the medical bay. It was-" The memories of the room immediately assaulted her. Clarke would never forget the sight of the cages, the smell of all those people kept captive. "It was where they were keeping your people, there were stacks of cages and-" Her breath caught, and she had to shake her head to try and rid herself of the increasingly graphic images. "I was looking for a way out when I spotted Anya."

The room was silent for a moment as Lexa gently scrapped her nails down the length of the scar. "Why did you free her?" She eventually asked.

"I needed her." Clarke answered honestly. "I didn't know the ground, and I needed a Grounder to convince you not to attack us. I knew my people wouldn't be able to fight two wars at once."

Clarke held her breath, waiting for Lexa's reaction. "That was smart."

"You're not angry?"

Lexa rolled over to face her, her brow creasing in obvious confusion. "Why would I be angry?"

"I don't know." Clarke said, frowning at Lexa's questioning eyes. She had just confessed to using the woman Lexa had grown up with, who had been her mentor for her own personal gain. "It's the sort of thing that most people would be angry about."

Lexa pressed a gently, but all to brief kiss to her lips. Clarke couldn't help trying to chase them when the other woman quickly pulled away again.

"We are not most people Clarke." Lexa smiled as their hands intertwined.

"Heda and Wanheda." Clarke whispered.

Both of their names held so much weight, so much responsibility, and Clarke knew that what happened the night before wouldn't take that away. They were still bound to their names and to their responsibilities. They would never truly be just Lexa and Clarke.

"What is it?" Lexa questioned, apparently picking up on the turmoil that was starting to spread through her.

"What happens now?"

The other woman looked at her apologetically and Clarke already knew what her answer was going to be. "People can't know... Not yet."

Clarke understood, she knew it was risky for them to make anything public when they were on the cusp of war. It still hurt though. "Things like this don't stay a secret Lexa."

Lexa nodded, squeezing at Clarke's hand. "I want to keep you safe, I couldn't bear it if- Clarke if Nia knew-" Tears were collecting in the other woman's eyes and Clarke quickly disentangled their hands so she could brush them away.

"Hey, it's okay, I understand. I just-" Swallowing, Clarke tried to keep her voice from cracking. "Should we stop, whatever this is?"

Lexa paused for a long moment, her mind undoubtedly weighing up risk they were putting themselves in by continuing. "No." She finally replied. "You were right Clarke, life should be about more than surviving. It should be about more than just sacrifice." Brushing her hand through Clarke's hair, Lexa smiled sadly. "You deserve something for yourself, Clarke."

The last part wasn't lost on the blonde. Sighing, she leant forwards to kiss the other woman. "You deserve it too." Clarke breathed against Lexa's still parted mouth. Clarke settled her head back onto the pillow as her hand absentmindedly played with the long strands of Lexa's hair. "I wish our lives were simpler."

"If they were we might never have met." Lexa smiled, but Clarke couldn't help imagining it anyway. Maybe they could have been like Lincoln and Octavia, or maybe Clarke could have saved Lexa from her people and they could have run away into the forest together and never looked back.

"Or we could have had this whilst someone else had to worry about everything." The blonde said as her mind played over the fantasy of a life without any responsibility.

A smirk appeared on Lexa's face, her eyebrow cocking. “I'm not sure either of us could have let that happen." The brunette challenged. Clarke knew she was right. Helping their people was practically burnt into their DNA.

"You know," She husked, as she brushed her hand through Lexa's hair again. "It's still early and there are things we could do other than talking."

The smile that broke out across Lexa's face was completely unrestrained, her eyes crinkling at the edges and her mouth falling open in a burst of happiness that Clarke had never seen before."Then perhaps we shouldn't talk any more." Lexa suggested.

Rolling onto her back Clarke pulled at Lexa's arm until the other woman was settling on top of her. "Perhaps not." She whispered as Lexa's lips inched towards hers again.

Clarke sighed as she dropped into the chair closest to her window.

The noise from outside the tower was a far cry from the early morning silence that had greeted her when she had made her way back to her room. None of the guards had batted an eye when she left Lexa's room with the folder that contained her drawing of the other woman and more blank paper than Clarke knew what to do with. To them, Wanheda had been locked in conversation with their Heda all night. At least Clarke hoped that was the impression she had given them.

Her whole body shook pleasantly at the memories of the previous evening. She'd had the Commander of the thirteen clans reduced to a wet mess of wanton need beneath her finger tips and tongue. An uncomfortable warmth started to grow between her thighs at the memory of Lexa's head throwing itself back into the furs, her whole body bowing as Clarke had thrust her hips behind the movement of her fingers. They had gone on long into the night, with Lexa keen to give more and more of herself to Clarke as she pushed the blonde to release after release.

Looking down at her watch, Clarke let out another sigh as the hand approached ten. Her stomach was rolling with nerves. She was going to have to tell her mother everything that had happened in Polis over the last 48 hours. The seconds seemed to tick by faster and faster, and Clarke could feel her palms starting to sweat when she turned the dial on the radio.

"Clarke?" Her mom's voice immediately came through clearly.

"Mom, hi. How's everything-"

"Pike had a group sent into the Ice Nation." Her mom's stern voice interrupted and Clarke almost dropped the radio. The pace of her heart instantly rocketed because she knew exactly what they would have seen.


"There were over a thousand warriors there, Clarke, and do you know who else was there?" Her mom pressed on.

Closing her eyes, the blonde rubbed at her temples. The conversation wasn't panning out anything like she had planned. Desperately. she tried to pull it back around. "Mom, just let me explain-"

"Explain why you lied to us? To me?" Her mom sounded furious and Clarke couldn't blame her. She could only imagine how blind sided she would have been by Pike's revelation.

"Mom, I was going to tell you-"

"When?" She questioned harshly. Clarke could almost feel her mother's hard stare through the radio.

"Today! I just- I wanted all the facts so you wouldn't do something stupid."

"Well it's too late, Clarke," Her mom seethed. Clarke felt her heart plummet. "Pike's already made the official call for an election."

"I can-" She had council meetings to attend, there was a whole war to plan, she didn't have time for Pike to be calling an election at such a crucial time. The pressure started to build in her chest as the weight of everything that was going on around her seemed to press down on her at once. "I can fix this mom."

"How, Clarke? You're in Polis." And she was right, even with the radio there was little Clarke could do whilst she was so far away.

"I- I-" There was only one thing she could do, and Clarke's heart ached because she knew this time she would be going on her own. "I'm coming back to Arkadia."

The other end of the radio went silent, her mom clearly not expecting her daughter to declare her return to their camp. "When?" The older woman finally asked. "We can only hold this off for so long, Clarke." The exhaustion Clarke had been hearing so often lately was seeping back into her mom's voice.

"Soon, just-" It had to be dealt with quickly, Clarke knew an election couldn't be hanging over them, distracting them from what really mattered. "Tomorrow, I'll come back tomorrow."

"Okay, I can send someone to collect you so you don't have to ride back?" Despite everything, a smile pulled at Clarke's lips. At least her return to Arkadia wouldn't be on horse back again.

"Right, yeah, okay." The blonde answered nervously. Swallowing, she tried to keep her breathing as even as possible. "Okay, I'll- I'll see you tomorrow."

"I'm sorry, Clarke, I know this isn't what you wanted." Her mom apologised, but Clarke shook her head.

As much as if defeated her, she knew her mom didn't really have a say in the election. Especially if Pike had gained the support of the people of Arkadia. "No, no you didn't have a choice mom, you had to accept his challenge."

"That doesn't mean I'm not sorry."

Their goodbyes were quick, and Clarke shut her eyes as the radio clicked off into silence. It took everything for her not to launch it across the room.

Everything had been falling into place before they came back to Polis, so of course it had to all fall apart at once.

"God damn it!" Clarke cried as she flipped the chair. She just needed one more day and she could have told her mother herself.

"Wanheda?" One of her guards called through the door.

"I'm fine!" She called out breathlessly. Rubbing her fingers across her temple, Clarke let her body slide down the side of the bed. "I'm fine." She whispered.

Her head felt like it was about to explode. Nia's army was growing at the border. The tension of war was building on the horizon. Pike was forcing an election. She needed to tell her people to help fight the war. There were guards in the tower trying to kill Lexa. Anya had almost been killed. The Broad Leaf clan were openly challenging the Commander. The clans still hadn't voted on blood must not have blood. She'd slept with Lexa, and she had no idea what that would really mean for them. And now she had to return to Camp Jaha. Without her.

The very thought of having to leave without Lexa had the air in her lungs expelling completely.

She wasn't sure how long she had been sat on the floor with her thoughts stampeding through her mind when the door to her room quietly squeaked open. Clarke's eyes snapped up to the sight of Anya walking into the room.

"Clarke?" Anya prompted, shutting the door behind her. "Are you okay?"

Seeing the worry in the other woman's eyes had Clarke dropping her gaze. She couldn't look at her, and she couldn't explain why it felt like her lungs were being crushed. "I-" Her heart felt like it was about to pound right through her rib cage. "I- I'm fine."

"Look at me." Anya snapped. Without hesitation, Clarke blinked her eyes up, surprised to find the other woman kneeling directly in front of her. "You're panicking, what's wrong?" She asked calmly.

"Camp Jaha-" She couldn't get the words out, the sounds catching in her throat and rumbling into nothing.

"Did something happen? Clarke?" Anya pushed, panic slipping into her own voice as her strong hands squeezed at Clarke's legs.

"Pike- He- An election. I don't- I can't-"

"Breathe, Clarke." Anya gently ordered, pulling one of Clarke's hands up to rest on her chest. "Breathe."

"Leave." Anya demanded as she threw open the doors to the throne room. There were men and women Clarke didn't recognise and all of them quickly jumped to their feet at the General's demanding presence.

It hadn't taken Anya long to calm Clarke down enough for her to explain what had happened. The moment she had finished the other woman had pulled her to her feet and dragged straight to Lexa.


Clarke couldn't help staring at the woman. Just a few hours ago they had been wrapped up in each other, their bodies practically becoming one as-

"Wanheda." The Commander's voice interrupted, quickly jolting her back into the present.

"Heda." Clarke greeted formally in return, her voice croaking from the desperate breathes she had been gasping in just minutes ago. "Could I have a word. In private."

The brunette studied her curiously for a moment. "Yes. Leave us." The Commander ordered, repeating Anya's instruction to the collection of Grounders. "What happened?" She asked once they had all left.

"Pike had a group sent into Azgeda territory." Clarke quickly revealed.

"The fool." Lexa snarled. "Does he not know-"

"They know about Nia. They know everything." She continued and Lexa ducked her head, her body turning away from Clarke as she started to pace. "He's demanded an election."

Lexa stopped abruptly, twisting back to face Clarke. "And your people are letting it happen?!"

"He has too much support, they don't have a choice, that's why-" Clarke cut herself off, desperately looking into Lexa's eyes for her to understand.

She did, Clarke could see it in the way her green eyes blinked away from her. "When do you leave?" She asked quietly, all of the anger that had building in her voice disappearing completely.


"So soon." Lexa replied so quietly, Clarke wasn't sure she had even said it at all. "Anya, may we have a moment."

Anya looked between them curiously, and Clarke could practically see the cogs turning in her head. "Of course, Heda."

"I'm sorry. I know this is bad timing." Clarke apologised as soon as the door shut behind the other woman.

"You do not need to apologise for the actions of your people, Clarke-"

"No, I should have told them about Nia escaping yesterday. If I'd just-"

"You cannot change what has happened." Lexa interrupted softly. "He would have found a way to make this happen. My... Outburst is likely to have only provoked him further." Tucking her hands behind her back, Lexa studied her for a moment. "Your people will listen to you. They will see that you were doing what you thought was right."

Doubt swirled uneasily in the blonde's mind. "And if they don't?"

"They will." Ducking her head slightly, Lexa stepped closer. "I know you can do this, Clarke, but is there anything I can do?"

"I want to ask you to come with me." She confessed.

"I want to ask you to stay." Lexa replied quietly. "I thought we would have longer."

Without thinking, Clarke moved closer, her hand pulling at Lexa's until there was barely any space between them. It would be so easy to kiss her, to get lost in the comfort and calmness the brunette afforded her.

"We can't." Lexa said regretfully, her eyes still darting down to her lips.

"I know." Clarke sighed, taking a step back. "Maybe being apart for now is better."

Lexa nodded solemnly, her gaze settling on the floor for a few moments before replying. "I have to be able to separate my feelings from my duty, but the lines always seem to blur around you."

"It won't always be like this." Clarke whispered as she reached out to take Lexa's hand in her own again. "Maybe someday you and I will owe nothing more to our people."

Letting out a heavy breath, Lexa closed her eyes. "I hope so."

"An election? Now?" Mae asked, her eyes looking uncertain as they studied Clarke.

"Pike has been challenging the Chancellor for power since we found him." Clarke tucked her hands behind her back as she looked around the room. "News of Nia's escape has pushed him to call for the vote."

"Pike? The man who wanted to kill the army that was protecting your people?" The representative for the Trikru accused. Clarke creased her brow. Lexa wouldn't have told Mae about Pike's attempt on the armies life. The only way she could possibly know about it was if someone in Arkadia had told the Trikru. The room began to softly murmur as the ambassador's started to talk amongst themselves at the revelation, and Clarke quickly pushed the thought to the back of her mind.

The member of the Broad Leaf jury who had spoken against Lexa so much the day before rose to his feet. "We cannot fight a war on two fronts."

"You won't have to." Clarke quickly tried to assure him. "Charles Pike will not become the Chancellor."

"Why? Because of your word?" The man scoffed.

"Pike becoming Chancellor will not benefit my people," Clarke let her voice dip lower as she turned to face him fully. "And you already know the lengths I'll go to protect my people."

"So you would kill a leader your people have voted for?" He pushed. Clarke tried to keep her face as neutral as possible at the surprise his question caused.

How far would she be willing to go to stop Pike becoming Chancellor? Would she break the pact of blood must not have blood for him? So soon into convincing Lexa that is it was the right thing to do? Clarke swallowed as her palms started to sweat. Would she be able to take someone's life again?

The muttering around the room stopped abruptly, and Clarke turned her head slightly to see Lexa's hand raised lazily in the air. "What Wanheda does to ensure the outcome of this vote is not of our concern."

Shutting down the spiral her thoughts had been drifting into she quickly faced the rest of the coalition again. "I'm leaving for Arkadia tomorrow to ensure the result of this vote is the best one for this coalition. Skaikru are dedicated to to becoming valuable members, but like you we have traditions that must be respected, and holding an election when a viable challenge is made is one of them."

"This is not a new concept." Mae interrupted. "Six of our clans already elect their leaders. The timing, however, leaves much to be desired."

"Wanheda has already spoken to me of her peoples position in this war and the resources that will be available to us. The meetings and discussions we have will continue without Skaikru's presence." The Commander answered, pausing briefly to wait for any objections around the room.

"Thank you, Wanheda." The Commander said from above her, effectively dismissing her back to her seat. "The Skaikru's approaching vote is not the only reason I called you here early. Titus."

Stepping away from his position next to the Commander's throne Titus walked to the centre of the floor. "Nia has made her first move. Three villages along the Azgeda border were attacked last night."

"Casualties?" Magnus asked, his arms crossing over his barrelled chest.

"Just five. The Trikru's army intercepted them as planned." He confirmed. "Rhea has now issued the order for the villages, and any settlements within two leagues of the border to be evacuated."

"You would leave our borders unprotected?" Mae quested, looking between both Titus and her Heda.

"No." The Commander replied tersely. "I would have those that are too weak to fight moved away from the battlefield."

"The latest scout reports have Nia's army at over a thousand." Titus continued to explain. "Only the nomads from the north have yet to join her forces, once they have we can expect the her final move."

"Then we must attack now, Heda." The deep, gravely voice of the Sankru's ambassador interrupted. "Before her army can reach its full strength."

"To attack now would be a fools errand." Magnus replied for Lexa, his big hand coming to rest on his knee as he looked around the room. "Half our army is out of position. Half our supplies have yet to make it to Polis. We are not yet prepared to attack Nia and win."

"Magnus is right." The Commander answered. "I will not attack ill prepared. Nia may not be at full strength, but I will not attack whilst we are also weakened."

"And if she decides to attack now? Whilst we are weakened?" The Sankru ambassador pushed.

"She will not attack until she can be sure of her victory." The Chief of the Blue Cliffs clan interrupted. "I have known the Aiz Kwin for many years, and I have never known her to attack without the full force of her army at her back."

"The Trishana are already watching the main passes, if Nia attacks now the Trikru's army will be ready to meet her, as will the army that continues to gather outside Polis." Titus confirmed.

"How long until the full army is ready?" Clarke asked. She knew the army was slowly gathering, but with Magnus's proclamation that half the army was still out of position she had to wonder how much longer it would take for Lexa's army to be readied.

"Four days, three if we move without the support of the Ingranrona." Magnus answered and Clarke nodded slowly. She would have two days to secure the Kane's election, then another two to convince him to send some of the guard to help Lexa's army. "And we cannot hold an army of that size outside Polis forever."

"Neither can Nia." Clarke pointed out and murmurs of agreement spread across the room.

"Wanheda is right, Nia suffers the same constraints we do. She will try to force our hand, draw us into Azgeda to attack first. Your armies are not to be provoked into attacking her." The Commander said pointedly looking around the room. "If she appears weak, it's because she wants you to think she is weak."

"So we wait her out?" Clarke asked, her brow creasing because she would have thought Lexa would want to end the fight as quickly as possible.

The Commander smirked. "She will move swiftly, Wanheda. Nia can be patient, but she's tired of waiting for this throne."

Clarke knocked on the door in front of her, listening to the shuffling of fabric on the other side.

"What?" Roan's voice called out from inside the room, and Clarke quickly pushed the door open.

"Wanheda." Roan croaked from the bed, dropping the book he had been reading onto his chest.

Clarke pushed the door shut behind her. "King Roan." She greeted.

A wry smile appeared on the man's face. "I think my mother might have taken back the crown." Sitting on the side of the bed, the blonde moved the book out of the way before pulling the furs off Roan's chest. "Go ahead..."

Rolling her eyes, Clarke stopped her inspection of Roan's wounds. "May I check your wounds, King Roan?" She asked mockingly.

"Of course, Wanheda." He smiled up at her, and Clarke had to stop herself from rolling her eyes again.

Pushing down on the bruised areas she watched his reactions carefully. "When was the last time your dressings were changed?" She asked, whilst eyeing up the bandage that was wrapped around his middle.

"This morning."

"And the pain?"

"Bearable." He answered simply.

Clarke wondered if all Grounders were the same when it came to pain. She still remembered pushing the shaft of an arrow straight through Lincoln with barely any complaint from the man. Neither Lexa or Anya seemed to admit when they were hurt either.

Shifting the furs up his body, Roan stared at her for a moment. "Why are you here, Clarke?"

"I'm leaving for Arkadia in the morning. I wanted to check on you before I left." She replied simply.

"Oh? Is the great Wanheda worried about me?"

"Hardly." Pulling the furs back down, she motioned for Roan to sit up. "Your mother attacked some villages last night."

"She's trying to draw the Commander's attack." He explained as he helped Clarke to unwrap the bandage. "The land in Azgeda is well defended, she won't be able to break through my mother's forces there."

"I don't understand how she can even have so many followers. Why follow someone to war when all their Heda wants is peace?"

"Do not think poorly of the people of Azgeda, Clarke." Roan winced as the final layer of dressing unravelled. It was obvious a blade had pierced through his stomach, the wound jagged and raw where he had attempted to brand the skin back together. "They've lived under the reign of my mother for a long time. If she tells them Heda's a threat, they will believe her."

Leaning back against the bed, Roan let out a groan. "Anyone who speaks out against her is put to death, anyone who questions her is punished." He continued to explain.

"They don't have a choice." Clarke realised aloud.

"My mother wants Ontari to become Heda so the Ice Nation can finally be the ultimate power. She will tell the people of Azgeda anything to ensure that happens, she will stop at nothing." He warned darkly.

"I don't understand, why now?"

"Because of you." Roan replied his tone softer than Clarke had ever heard it. "When the Commander retreated and you destroyed the Mountain the loyalties of the weaker clans became easier to manipulate. Did you really think all those ambassadors were operating under self gain?"

"Some of them were ordered to take part in Nia's coup." Clarke realised before snapping her gaze down to Roan. "Does Lexa know?" She asked, the panic seeping into her voice.

All she was met with was a smirk though, and Roan tipped his head back into the pillow as he let out a deep laugh. "You underestimate our Heda far too much."

Clarke sighed as she dropped onto her bed. In just a few hours she would be leaving Polis again, except this time it would be without the support of Lexa.

Rubbing her hands across her face, she wondered if there would be any chance of sleep that night or if her mind would be too busy winding through every single scenario she might have to face at Arkadia. She wanted to go to Lexa and ask for advise. More than that, she wanted to go to Lexa and lose herself in her arms for another night. For her last night.

It was too risky though. One night they could easily explain away as Lexa discussing the Skaikru's position in the war. Two nights would raise questions that neither of them wanted to answer. Outside the door, the blonde heard the deep voices of the guards and she quickly sat up when the door were gently pushed open.

She relaxed a second later as Anya stepped through the doorway.

"Hey, you disappeared earlier." Clarke smiled warmly.

Anya grunted in response before she sat down next to her on the bed, her arm wrapping around her middle where Clarke knew the worst of her bruises to be. "Ontari wanted to see me. She wanted to know how Lexa became Commander. Nia told her she'd had Roch assassinated."

Clarke didn't need to ask whether that was the truth or not. She couldn't help wondering what else Nia had lied to Ontari about. "That's good though right? That she's finally asking questions."

"She still has a lot to learn, a lot to unlearn." A smile tugged at the other woman's lips. "But she is finally making progress. Polis and Heda are not what she thought."

"I know the feeling..."

Anya hummed beside her, letting their conversation taper off into silence.

Clarke knew that Ontari wasn't the reason the General had come to her room so late and she was about to question why she was really there when Anya finally spoke up again. "You could not breathe earlier, when your mother gave you the news about Pike."

Clarke instantly diverted her gaze away from her. "It happens sometimes." She tried to sound dismissive, but she could practically feel the warm gaze of Anya's eyes on the side of her face.

"When you are worried?" Anya probed.

"Yes." The blonde answered simply, desperate for Anya to drop the subject, but the other woman pushed on regardless.

"And what was it exactly you were worried about, Clarke?"

"I- I was just... It's stupid." Clarke mumbled, her face flushing slightly.

Anya's hand reached across to cover her own, her finger gently tapping against her skin couple of times. "But it still worries you." She said before pulling away again.

Pausing, Clarke fiddled with the bedding beneath her. "I didn't want to go back alone." She finally admitted.

The woman next to her made a noise of understanding and Clarke half expected her not to say anything more. "You can still talk to Heda." Anya suddenly announced, and Clarke was sure her neck was close to snapping with how fast she turned to look at her because she hadn't even mentioned Lexa's name. "Through that thing you use with your mother."

"The radio." Clarke provided, still momentarily stunned at the turn their conversation had just taken.

"You should go show her how to use it." Anya suggested.

"What? Now?"

The other woman nodded. "I spoke to Heda before I came here, she has a meeting to attend in the morning, she will not be able to see you off at the gates."

There had been no mention of an early meeting to Clarke. She was positive Lexa would have told her if she wouldn't be able to see her again before she left. Maybe it was part of Lexa's attempt to put some distance between them whilst they were at war though. Maybe it was better if they didn't see each other.

Clarke's heart clenched painfully.

 There were guards waiting at the end of the corridor to the Commander's room, and Clarke frowned as the crossed their spears in front of her, effectively blocking her way.

"I need to deliver this to Heda." The blonde explained, showing them the radio. One of the guards looked at the device curiously, before taking it in his hands to inspect it. "It's a radio."

Clarke doubted the guard quite understood what it was, but he nodded regardless. "Apologies, Wanheda, Titus has asked for Heda not to be disturbed tonight."

"It won't take long," Smiling Clarke looked between them. "I promise." For a moment Clarke thought they were going to deny her request and she almost let out a sigh of relief when they stepped out of her way.

The corridor to Lexa's room was as quiet as always, and Clarke didn't bother to knock before she was pushing the door open. It probably wasn't the wisest choice after the attempt on woman's life the day before. Clarke didn't miss the way Lexa's hand darted under the cushion on the couch at her sudden entrance.

"Clarke." Lexa said simply, her hand sliding back into view and away from what Clarke assumed was a hidden weapon.

"Hey." The blonde greeted, closing the door behind her. "I wanted to give you something."

Lexa pushed herself to her feet, her brow creasing at the device in Clarke's hand as she approached. "The radio?" Lexa questioned and Clarke nodded.

"So we can talk when I'm in Arkadia, and-" Reaching into her pocket Clarke pulled out her fathers watch. "And this too."

Lexa would need it if she was going to be able to talk to her on the radio at the right time. It was more than that though. And even though she would only be gone for a few days, Clarke wanted Lexa to have something of hers. Something to remind her.

Hesitantly, Lexa reached out to take the watch. "This is special to you?"

"It was my dads. He," Clarke swallowed back the lump in her throat that always seemed to form when she thought about her father. "He gave it to me before he died."

"I cannot take this, Clarke." Lexa insisted softly as she tried to hand the watch back to the blonde.

"I'm giving it to you, Lexa." Clarke smiled before she closed Lexa's fist back around it.

Green eyes darted down to her lips and Clarke couldn't help her tongue sweeping out to wet them.

"Then I will keep it safe Clarke kom Skaikru." Lexa murmured, her gaze still fixed on Clarke's mouth as she placed both the watch and radio onto the table.

"I should go. Titus said you weren't to be disturbed." The blonde said weakly. Her body didn't move thought and despite her words, she didn't make any attempt to even begin leaving.

The space between them disappeared a second later.

Lexa stepped forwards, her hands rising to tangle into the blonde's hair.

Their lips met somewhere in the middle and Clarke sighed into the kiss. All day she had waited, and all day she has wondered if she would get the chance to feel Lexa against her again before leaving. There was still a nagging thought in the back of her head that they had too much to talk about, that their relationship was still wholly undefined. In that moment it didn't matter though. Clarke groaned as Lexa lightly nipped at her bottom lip before she was pulling back to rest her forehead against her own.

"Titus says a lot of things." Lexa breathed.

"Is that really who you're thinking of now?" Clarke smiled as Lexa rubbed her nose gently across the tip of hers.

"Not at all." The brunette whispered before ducking her head forwards again to capture Clarke's lips between her own.

Clarke could feel her body being moved backwards. It took a second to realise Lexa was subtly directing her towards the bed. Wet heat started to pool at the idea, and she wanted nothing more than to drag Lexa's fingers down past the waistband of her pants to relieve the ache that was starting to throb between her legs. They couldn't though. Despite Clarke's suspicion that it would be over embarrassingly quickly for both of them there still wasn't time.

Reluctantly, the blonde pulled away, pushing lightly at Lexa's shoulders. The other woman instantly dropped her hands and stepped back, her eyes searching Clarke's worriedly.

"No it's not-" Clarke began to protest. Leaning in the blonde quickly pressed a kiss to Lexa's mouth, desperate for her to understand that she hadn't done anything wrong. "I was meant to be leaving." She whispered against her lips.

"You should." Despite her words, Lexa still tilted her head forwards again to capture Clarke's lips with her own again.

It was only when the back of her knees hit the bed that Clarke cottoned on to exactly what was happening. "You're not making this easy." She murmured as she pulled away again.

Lexa's expression turned playful. "Life is never easy, Clarke." And Clarke was surprised to hear the bubble of laughter that erupted from her at Lexa's serious tone. The urge to fall back onto the bed and drag Lexa down with her was almost overwhelming. She wanted so badly to just forget what was waiting for her in the morning. To forget the weight they both had to carry outside the doors of Lexa's room.

"I want to ask you to stay." Lexa breathed against her, repeating her words.

"I want to ask you to come with me."  She whispered, and Clarke could feel the tremble of Lexa's lip as they kissed again.

The guards nowhere in sight when she finally left the Commander's room again and it didn't surprise Clarke to find Titus waiting at the end of the corridor.

"Wanheda." He greeted stonily.

"Titus." She replied tersely, not stopping as she walked straight past him.

"I asked for Heda to remain uninterrupted." He said through gritted teeth. Clarke had to stop herself from rolling her eyes when she turned back to face him. "Yet here you are."

"I had something important to give, Heda."

With a clear look of disapproval on his face, Titus stepped into her space, but Clarke refused to move back. "Do not play me for the fool, Wanheda. Whatever it is you plan to use her for, know that I will not allow it."

Shaking her head, Clarke glowered back at him. "I'm not planning anything, so how about you tell me what you really want to say?"

"Stay away from Lexa." His voice dropped, as he stepped even closer to her. "You and your people will destroy everything she has worked for."

Clarke felt her jaw tense as her teeth ground together. "That's not your choice to make."

He scoffed in response. "You can never have a normal life together. Until the day Lexa dies she will be bound to the title of Heda. You will always come second to her."

Cocking her brow, Clarke smirked. "So where does that leave you?"

"I will not be-"

Clarke cut him off, stepping forwards until he was the one forced to step back. "Her life is not yours to control."

"The path of the Commander is one that must be walked alone. Love is a weakness they cannot have." He replied angrily.

Love is weakness.

It was him, Clarke realised. It was Titus that had instilled such a twisted belief into Lexa's heart. "Then isn't it funny that it's Lexa's love for her people that makes her so strong?" Titus looked flummoxed, his mouth opening and closing as he tried to defend the deepest contradiction of the mantra he had pressed onto Lexa. "Goodnight, Titus."

Clarke yawned as she approached the gate. Sleep had almost completely eluded her, with what felt like only minutes passing until her eyes were wide open with worry again. By the time the guards come to tell her that her people had arrived, Clarke had already been awake long enough to watch the sun slowly rising above the horizon.

The truck was parked a few feet away from the main gate and Clarke squinted her eyes to try and identify the Grounder standing beside it.

It didn't take her long.

There was only one person who would be leaning against the truck whilst twirling a sword they most definitely should not be twirling whilst injured. "I hope you're not planning to use that sword." Clarke called out to Anya.

The General stopped her spinning, thrusting the sword straight out in front of her to inspect the blade. "It depends if you try to kill me again, Sky girl."

"Only when you try to kidnap me..." Clarke tapered off when she realised there was a bag sitting at the other woman's feet. "Why do you have a bag?"

"I'm coming with you." Anya announced.

The younger woman blinked in disbelief for a moment. "What?"

"Heda asked me to keep you safe. I can't do that if you're in Arkadia and I'm in Polis." The woman replied as she started to twirl her sword again.

"But your ribs? Anya-"

"Are perfectly fine."

"Clarke?" The blonde recognised the voice. Twisting around, she smiled when she found Monroe and a woman she hadn't met before standing behind them.

"Monroe, hi."

"Clarke Griffin," The woman next to her greeted, her hand thrusting out for Clarke to take. "I've heard a lot about you."

Clarke gripped onto the unknown woman's hand, trying not to wince when the woman took a tight grip on it. "Hi, I'm not sure we've met."

"Oh, I'm Monty's mom, Hannah." The woman said, the smile that beamed across her face not quite meeting her eyes.

Clarke remembered Monty's story and she let her eyes soften their gaze. "Monty told me that you'd been found with Pike's group. I'm sorry about your husband."

"We made the mistake of trusting the Grounders, that's all. Something we've all learnt from." Monty's mom replied, the smile and tone of her voice not quite matching the heaviness of her words.

Clarke frowned at the woman's blame of the Grounders. "The Azgeda." The blonde clarified.

"Oh, of course, yes. The Azgeda." Hannah replied, her tone almost mocking.

"This is Anya." Clarke said in introduction. "She's coming with us."

"I thought it was just you." Monroe blurted out and Clarke didn't miss the pointed look that Hannah gave the girl.

"Well you thought wrong child." Anya interrupted, her voice so low and flat the even Clarke felt a spark of intimidation.

"I'll put your things in the back, we should get going." Monroe muttered quickly as she took Clarke's bag from her hand. Hannah followed after her, eyeing Anya curiously before she picked up the woman's bag for her. Monty's mom's behaviour was normal, perfectly acceptable, but Clarke couldn't help feeling uneasy in front of her.


Clarke's breath caught in her throat. It was difficult to keep control of the smile that was threatening to burst across her face. Despite the ongoing war council, Lexa had still managed to make it away long enough to see her off. When she turned back towards the voice, she was surprised to see a disinterested looking Ontari walking beside her.

Tucking her hands behind her back, Clarke ignored the way Ontari walked straight past her, her eyes glaring at the blonde with every step.

"Heda." Clarke greeted as evenly as possible, fully aware of the guards that were looking at her. "Anya said you couldn't make it."

The other woman looked confused for a moment. "I told her I would be seeing you both off before I returned to my room last night."

Glancing over her shoulder, Clarke quickly glared at the woman. "Apparently she forgot."

There were too many people around them, and Clarke wasn't sure how she stopped her eyes from dipping to Lexa's lips when she turned back to face her. "The next time we meet may be the battlefield, Wanheda." The Commander announced.

The smile fell from Clarke's lips, and her body ached to reach out and pull Lexa's body to her own. Her fingers itched to wind their way through her long brown locks as her lips pressed against Lexa's.

Judging by the darkening of Lexa's eyes, her thoughts were treading the same dangerous waters.

Clarke almost jumped when Lexa suddenly thrust out her arm. It was the most physical contact either of them could get away with and Clarke revelled in the feel of Lexa's strong hand gripping onto her arm.

Clarke could see the barely hidden emotion that were swirling in Lexa's eyes. I want to ask you to stay. "May we meet again, Wanheda." The brunette said quietly instead.

Brushing her fingers against the material of Lexa's coat, Clarke smiled. "May we meet again, Heda." There were so many things that neither of them could say, and it took everything Clarke had to let go of her arm. "We should get going."

"You should." Lexa replied quietly.

"Continue your training, and let Aden help you-" She heard Anya's voice mutter behind her.

"He's a child-"

"He is a Nightblood who has been training in Polis his whole life. Let him help you, Ontari." Anya shot back, a tone of impatience slipping into her voice.

Ontari just grunted in response. Looking behind her, Clarke was met once again by Ontari's glaring eyes as she marched straight past her and back through the gates of Polis.

"Heda." Anya said evenly as she approached her.

"Anya." The Commander replied stiffly.

Clarke watched in shock when Anya suddenly rolled her eyes and wrapped her arm around Lexa, pulling her body into hers. The guards all looked away, but Clarke couldn't stop watching as Anya whispered something into Lexa's ear.

Whatever it was Anya said had Lexa's shoulders relaxing and a smile pulling at her lips as she stepped back from her. "Thank you, Anya."

"Are we good to go ladies?" Hannah smiled at them from the truck. Clarke nodded, before climbing into the back of the truck with Anya close behind her.

Until the moment the door slammed shut on them, Lexa's eyes never left hers, and until the moment the doors slammed shut Clarke had to bite her tongue to stop herself from asking Lexa to come with her.

"You had sex with Heda." Clarke's eyes flew open at the sound of Anya's voice whispering into her ear.

She had no idea how long they had been driving for, but at some point she had managed to drift off into an uncomfortable sleep. The truck was still jerking her body around, and Clarke had no idea how she had managed to sleep through the unfamiliar feeling.

"What? No-" The blonde blurted out, quickly lowering her voice when she caught Monroe's eye in the mirror. "No." She whispered again, her eyes blinking awake fully, but Anya just cocked her brow in disbelief.

"You weren't in your room yesterday morning." She quietly accused.

Clarke felt her face flushing, her cheeks burning at the other woman's accusation, no matter how true it was. "We were having a meeting."

"Is that the Skaikru word for it?" Anya lightly mocked.

"No- It's-" Swallowing, Clarke chanced another look to the front of the truck, relieved to see both Hannah and Monroe's attention on the path ahead of them. "You need to stop coming in my room when I'm sleeping."

"I was collecting my clothes, Sky girl. Some of us have to wake up before dawn." Anya pulled away from her and the smirk on her face began to fade when she leaned back in again. "We're talking about it in a minute, when your friends aren't subtly trying to listen in."

"Everything okay back there?" Hannah asked.

Clarke quickly jerked her head back away from Anya. "Yeah, it's fine, just coalition stuff." She quickly replied, returning Hannah's smile in the mirror.

"Stop." Anya requested, and Monroe looked at them through the mirror again.

"What?" The girl questioned.

"I said stop!" Anya shouted.

The truck suddenly shuddered to a halt making Clarke practically jump out of her seat. The door was slamming open before the blonde could even attempt to stop the General.

"Anya, what are you doing?" Clarke asked, poking her head out the back. Anya was standing in the small clearing, studying the trees her.

"I recognise this place..." Anya muttered, ignoring Clarke as she started to walk into the woods.

Quickly, Clarke jumped out after her. "Anya!" She shouted.

The other woman didn't stop though, her long coat billowing out behind her as she started to weave between the trees. Looking between the truck and Anya's disappearing form, Clarke quickly made up her mind.

"Just- Christ- Wait there, we'll be back!" Clarke called out behind her before she jogged to catch up with the other woman. "Anya," She called again, ducking her head underneath the branch the older woman had let snap back on her. "Will you slow down, you're going to hurt yourself."

"I have slowed down, why do you think you can keep up with me?" Anya replied over her shoulder, and Clarke was sure she sped up in response.

"Of course you have." Clarke muttered.

They continued onwards for a few more minutes, with Anya stopping only twice to get her bearings. It was just after the second time they stopped that the trees in front of them stopped abruptly and Clarke froze at the sight of the open space in front of her.

It was where they had first landed.

The drop ship still stood tall amongst the surrounding trees, it's sharp metal edges a stark contrast to the natural hues of the forest.

"The drop ship." Clarke muttered, taking a tentative step forwards.

The ground instantly erupted in front of her as hundreds of butterflies took to the sky. Blue and green merged together in a swirling vortex of wings, and Clarke felt her mouth drop open in awe at the beauty of it.

"They are harmless." Anya said quietly, confirming what Clarke already knew.

The mass of softly beating wings continued to circle in front of them. Hesitantly, Clarke stepped further into the space, gasping at the elegance of the creatures. "They're beautiful." Clarke muttered softly.

It was a strange juxtaposition to see beauty in a place where there had once seen so much death and fire. An emotion Clarke couldn't quite put her finger on tugged at her heart. It wasn't just the bodies of the Grounders that lay around them, her own people were scattered amongst the bones of those she had once called her enemy too. Looking up from the ground again, Clarke watched the butterflies until they eventually started to dissipate, disappearing high into the tree tops until it was just her and Anya again.

"Do you know who I blamed for their deaths?" Anya suddenly asked and Clarke knew exactly what she was referring to.

"Me." Clarke whispered.

"Myself." Anya confided, wincing as she crouched down to brush her hands through the strands of grass beneath her.

Clarke felt her brow creasing in confusion. "You didn't do this."

"It was me that led them here." The other woman replied, her eyes growing distant as she looked out across the little pocket of green. "They trusted me to lead them to victory. Instead I led them into a slaughter." Pushing herself upright again, Anya stared down at the grass. "They died, yet here I am."

"Hey," Clarke nudged her hand against Anya's. "I'm glad you are."

Silence descended between them, and Clarke studied the ground around her again.

It wasn't just her original camp that had changed beyond all recognition. The last time her and Anya had stood in the clearing together, Anya had been trying to kill her and Clarke had been trying to return the favour. It was also the day a strange respect had blossomed between them. Clarke truly did mean it when she said she was glad Anya was there with her. She shuddered to think what her life would have been if she killed her that day. What her life would have been if the bullet that had been shot into the back of the General had killed her.

Clarke let out a heavy sigh. The weight of the Trikru warrior’s deaths wasn't Anya's to bear alone. "It should be me you blame for this."

The Grounder shook her head. "We were both doing what we thought was right-"

“For our people.” Clarke finished for her.

"You are still having dreams." Anya stated simply, and Clarke nodded. “Do you ever dream about what happened here?”

"Sometimes. I didn't have time to think about everything I'd done at first, but after I left Camp Jaha...” Clarke drifted off her thoughts rolling over the nightmares that had haunted her every step since leaving. Anya looked at her questioningly, silently prompting her to continue.

"After I left Camp Jaha..." Clarke began again, her eyes closing at the barrage of memories that continued to wash over her. For those first few weeks, the nightmares had been unbearable and her mind had struggled to separate them from reality as she spiralled completely out of control. There had been blood, and fire and so many eyes staring at her with an accusation that went unsaid.

"All I could see were the bodies at Mount Weather, all those people blaming me for what I'd done.” Shaking her head Clarke smiled sadly at Anya. “Eventually I started to dream about everything I'd done."

Anya's head tilted at her confession. “Everything you did was for the survival of your people.”

“It didn't make it any easier.” Clarke frowned, tears starting to prickle at her eyes. Swallowing back the lump in her throat, she continued. “The first person I killed was a boy called Atom. The acid fog had burnt him from the inside out.” Even after all the time that had passed, Clarke could still hear his wheezing breaths. “He was suffering, so I stabbed a knife into his throat.”

“You did him a kindness.” Anya comforted softly.

“He's the only one I don't see. Wells, Charlotte, Finn, your warriors, I see them all, all of them blaming me for what I've done.”

The other woman eyes her curiously. "Is it always you?” Clarke creased her brow. “In the dreams, is it always you that they blame?" Anya clarified.

"Their blood is on your hands."

"You did this."

"You happened, Clarke."

There was one word that always stood out. One place that the blame always lay.


"Yes.” Clarke finally answered.

“Why?” Anya pushed.

They blamed Clarke because it was her fault. Everything that had happened. The torturing of Lincoln, the three hundred warriors she had burnt alive, Lexa abandoning them at Mount Weather-

"Because I blame me."

"Blaming yourself helps no one, least of all you." Anya pointed out, and Clarke wondered if the other woman's sole reason for bringing her to the drop ship was to have this very conversation. "Will blaming yourself change what has happened? Will it make my warriors stand from the ash you reduced them to?" Anya stared at her, her eyes hard. "Will blaming myself stop them from running to their deaths?"

Letting out a sigh, Clarke gently lowered herself to the floor, her feet tucking underneath herself as she played with the strands of grass underneath her fingers. It was only a few moments later that Anya settled beside her.

"How do you move on from something like this? How do you-" Swallowing, Clarke closed her eyes, focusing on the gentle tapping of Anya's finger on the back of her hand. "How can I forgive myself for everything I've done?"

"One day you'll look back and realise somewhere along the way you just have." Anya smiled softly. "Just as you forgave Lexa."

"I haven't forgiven Lexa." Clarke quickly responded.


“She left me there, Anya." Even to her own ears her voice sounded weak. “I needed her.”

"And she'll never stop trying to make it right." Reaching out Anya squeezed at her knee. “Lexa already thought she lost you once. You can trust her to never let that happen again.”

Clarke's face flushed as she pulled at the grass beneath her. "I told her I trust her." She said quietly.

"And do you?"

"Yes." Clarke admitted. "She left me there to die, but I can't help trusting her."

“Because you understand her. You understand the sacrifices she has to make and why she has to make them.” Clarke bit at her lip, her teeth worrying the flesh. "I thought she was going to suffocate under the weight of walking away from you. She'd just lost Gustus and to lose you too..."

The revelation surprised her. "You knew she had feelings for me." Clarke realised.

"I knew you had feelings for her too, muted by your grief for the boy, but I recognised the way you looked at her." Anya squeezed at her knee again. “I recognise the way you look at her now.”

Pulling her hand away, Anya leant back on her palms, stretching her legs in front of herself. “The reason you don't want to admit you forgive Lexa, Clarke. Is it will mean you've started forgive yourself.”

“I don't deserve-” Clarke didn't get the chance to finish, her body hitting the ground heavily when Anya pushed her to the side.

“You pity yourself too much.” She glowered, not bothering to help Clarke right herself again. “The past is in the past, let yourself live in the present with those that love you.”

"I thought love was weakness." Clarke muttered.

Anya smiled sadly. “It will not be easy, Clarke. Loving the Commander."

"Things haven't been easy for a long time." Fiddling with a blade of grass between her fingers, Clarke looked back at Anya. "What would your people do if they found out?"

"Some would support it, some would be against it. The people of Polis love her though, and they respect the great Wanheda." Taking the grass out of Clarke's hand Anya threw it to the floor. "Perhaps it's a match they would accept."

“What about you?”

“Me?” Anya smirked, knocking her shoulder against Clarke's. “Is Lexa not enough for you, Sky girl?” Pushing herself to her feet, Anya held out her hand for Clarke to take. "We've been here too long."

Without another word, Clarke let the other woman lead the way out of the clearing, sparing only the briefest of glances back at the drop ship before they started weaving their way back through the trees. In the silence of their walk, Clarke replayed Anya's every word, only paying the barest amount of attention to the fallen branches and roots that littered to forest floor.

Maybe Anya was right. Maybe it was herself that Clarke needed to accept forgiveness from.

"I do not trust your people." Anya suddenly called out from in front of her. Looking up, Clarke realised during her musings a gap had appeared between the two of them. Clarke quickly jogged to catch up with the woman.

"Hannah?" Clarke asked when she came to her side.

Anya nodded. "I don't like her."

Clarke couldn't help smiling as she fell back behind her. "There was a time when you didn't like me you know?"

"I still don't." She replied, but Clarke continued to smile regardless because she knew despite the other woman's words they were miles away from the enemy's they once were.

"She was with Pike's group, she probably doesn't trust either of us."

"It was something more-" Anya stopped abruptly.

They were back in the clearing the truck had stopped in. Except there was no truck any more.

"It's gone." Clarke looked around in disbelief as she walked into the opening, just their bags remained sitting where the truck once was. “They drove off without us."

Letting out a huff of air she leant down to pick up her bag.

What Clarke wasn't expecting was Anya to slam into the side of her.

"Wait!" Anya grunted. Both their bodies thudded to the floor, and she heard the General hiss in pain. "It's a trap."

"What?" Clarke asked with dazed confusion.

Anya's body was still pinning the blonde to the ground and Clarke let out a groan as she rolled off her. The impact had unsurprisingly jolted the woman's ribs and Clarke gave her a moment to get her breath back as she gripped her arm around them. "That bag, it's booby trapped." The other woman explained.

Pushing herself up, Clarke stared over at the bags. With the sunlight shining through the trees, she could just make out the almost invisible wire. Reaching down, Clarke quickly helped the still injured woman to her feet.

"This way." Anya muttered, carefully following the line into the bushes. With heistant hands, Anya gently moved the branches out the way to reveal what the wire was hooked onto.

The second the last branch was out the way, Clarke's mouth fell open.

The wire was tied around a small metal clip, and that small metal clip was hanging ominously over the trigger of a gun.

Anya reached through the branches. With a flick of her hands, she jolted the line off the end of the clip. Instant, the gun sprung to life as the clip squeezed against the trigger. Round after round unloaded into the area her and Anya had just been standing in, and Clarke had to cover her ears at the noise of the bullets exploding from the barrel of the gun and thunking into the trees around them.

By the time the last shot rang out, the blonde's ears were ringing painfully. "They tried to kill us." Clarke whispered in disbelief.

"Why am I not surprised." Anya muttered as she pulled the gun out of the branches, throwing the now useless device to the floor.

"We need to get back to Arkadia." Clarke called over her shoulder as she jogged back towards their bags, quickly throwing Anya's to her.

There was only one reason that Hannah and Monroe would have just tried to kill her, and it had everything to do with Pike and his election.

"Then get ready for a long walk, Sky girl."

Chapter Text

 Clarke hissed as the thorned branch of an overhanging tree scrapped across her cheek, the sharp tip instantly drawing blood.

“Three hours ago you were telling me to slow down.” Anya's out of breath voice called from behind her.

They needed to get back to Arkadia. Slowing down wasn't an option. It was probably unfair to the still injured woman, but Clarke ignored her as she picked up the pace. The muscles in her calves were starting to cramp uncomfortably and even in the fresh air of the forest she was finding it difficult to breathe.

A growl was the only warning Clarke had before Anya was pulling her arm and twisting her body until it was roughly colliding with the trunk of a tree.

“Let go.” Clarke gritted out between clenched teeth as she struggled against the other woman's hold.

Whatever shred of patience Anya had been holding onto cracked. Clarke grunted when the General pinned her forearm against the blonde's throat. “I said slow down.” Anya ordered tersely.

Gripping onto Anya's arm, Clarke managed to pull it away enough to breathe easier. “No you didn't.”

“Do not get pedantic with me, Sky girl.” The other woman pushed her weight onto her arm again until Clarke had to desperately tapped at it for her to relax her grip. “You're not thinking.”

“What I'm thinking is two of Pike's people just tried to kill me-”

Clarke let out another grunt as Anya pushed her arm further into her throat again. “We're heading straight for the front gate!”

Clarke's eyes widened. Suddenly she understood. The last time her and Anya had marched towards the gates of Arkadia unannounced, they had both ended up shot. There was still a dipped scar on Anya's stomach and a jagged line across her own arm reminding her of what happened that day.


“I do not take well to being shot at, Clarke.” Anya raged. The blonde cursed herself for not realising it before. The almost panicked worry in the Grounder's eyes was clear to see.

Clarke reached up to move the other woman's arm away. “They won't shoot us outside the gate.” Clarke said, trying to sound as comforting as possible.

Pike had supporters, that much had become abundantly clear just three hours ago when Hannah and Monroe had tried to kill them. That didn't mean he could risk something as obvious as shooting her right outside the gates of their home though.

It didn't take more than the gentlest nudge for Anya's arm to move back down to her side. She didn't move though, her body staying close. Clarke could still see the worry clear in her eyes. It was that worry that prompted Clarke to reach out for the other woman's hand and squeeze at it reassuringly. “I won't let them shoot you again.”

Anya shook her head, her eyes growing hard. “It's not me I'm worried about.”

“We'll be fine. Trust me.” The blonde gently tried to reassure the woman again. When Anya finally stepped out of her space, Clarke couldn't help worrying if she had actually gotten through to her. “How much further?” She asked as Anya started to adjust the bag she had tied across her body.

“Ten minutes.” She replied distractedly.

“Okay.” Biting at her lip, Clarke mulled over the possibilities for a moment. “We won't approach the front gate directly. We'll come in from the side, if there are more guards around the perimeter we'll know there's a problem.”

The words had Anya's shoulders relaxing and she nodded in agreement. “And if there are more guards?”

If there were more guards then Pike would have taken control of Arkadia. Clarke had to believe that her mom and Kane would be able to stave off the election long enough for her to arrive though.

“We'll deal with it.” Smiling, Clarke stepped away from the tree to shift her own bag into a more comfortable position. “I might even let you use your sword.”

 By the time they had done a wide lap of the camp the sun of the day was slowly waning on the horizon. Clarke was more than keen to finally get inside. There were no extra guards and Clarke couldn't quite put words to the relief she felt that at least one thing had gone in they're favour.

The guards called out at them as soon as they broke through the tree line and Clarke couldn't help noticing the way Anya tensed when they pointed their weapons towards them.

"Open the God damn gates." Clarke called up at them, her patience running dry at the guards lack of movement beyond aiming their guns. "Now!"

The blonde could hear them arguing on the other side of the gate. A moment later the heavy metal finally started to fall open and Clarke had to brace herself as her mom came hurtling though them.

"Clarke!? Oh my God, Clarke you're safe!" Her mom's arms latched around her neck, before she was quickly pulling away to grip onto her face. Worried brown eyes darted over her face and body. "I thought- I thought-"

"Mom, I'm fine we need-" Clarke began to say whilst trying to pull herself out her mother's grip.

"I don't understand Hannah said the Grounders attacked? That you'd been killed?" The older woman said perplexed. There was an almost frantic tone to her mom's voice and her eyes were still darting in disbelief across the blonde's face.

"Not for your peoples lack of trying." Anya gritted out from next to her.

Her mom drew back, her brow creasing. "Your people?"

"We'll explain later.” Clarke dismissed quickly. “Did Monroe make it back okay?"

"She's in the garage-" Clarke didn't wait for her to finish and she ignored the burning in her muscles as she started to march towards the garage. "Clarke wait!"

"Two minutes, mom!" She called behind her.

Monroe wasn't hard to find. She was sat on the step of the truck, her soft brown eyes leaking tears as she stared down at the guards jacket in her hands. If the girl hadn't been involved in trying to kill her only a few hours ago, Clarke might have felt more sympathy for her.

"You!" Anya seethed, and Clarke watched Monroe's whole body jerk in surprise. In two swift movement, Anya had her arm catching under Monroe's throat as she pushed her against the the side of the truck, the girls feet left dangling above the floor.

"What- Clarke- How-" She choked out.

"If you want someone dead, you should probably make sure you kill them." Clarke fumed. At her words, Anya tightened her hold making Monroe let out a straggled sound. Fearing that the girl might pass out before she had the answer she needed, Clarke lightly tapped at the Grounder's arm to get her to loosen her grip. "Who ordered it?"

"Pike- It was Pike." Monroe managed to answer, confirming what Clarke had already suspected to be true. Fresh tears started to gather in Monroe's eyes, her face turning redder and redder by the second.

"Do you want me to end her?" Anya asked evenly.

Panic filled the girls eyes, her arms pushing fruitlessly against Anya's to try and get her to move. "Please- Clarke- Please- No-"

It shocked the blonde how tempting it was to agree to Anya's offer. Clarke hated that her mind even toyed with the idea, hated that her subconscious was still okay with her ordering someone's death.

"Let her go." She said instead. Instantly Anya stepped back, letting Monroe fall to her knees as she gasped air into her lungs. "Where is Pike?" Clarke asked, bending down to push Monroe's head back, so she could look her in the eye.

"Canteen-" She replied before taking in a shuddering breath. "He's holding- A rally-"

“If you ever pull anything like that again, I'll kill you myself.” Clarke threatened darkly. “Am I making myself clear?”

“Yes- Yes- Clarke I'm sorry-”

Clarke ignored her, choosing instead to push herself to her feet. Her nails bit into her palms from the clenching of her fists as she marched straight out the garage and into the main corridors. The canteen wasn't far.

Anya was following close on her heels. "Can I kill him?" The other woman gritted out.

Clarke's jaw tensed. "Only if I don't first."

They both ignored the disbelieving stares that followed them as they strode through the corridor's. Clarke could hear the roar of the crowd from inside the canteen and she paused outside the door for a moment to listen to what Pike was telling them.

"And now the Chancellor's own daughter has been killed. The girl that's been living with them, helping them, has been ripped from this world by those savages.”

The crowd rumbled with agreement followed by the subtle chanting of Pike's name.

She'd heard enough.

Gritting her teeth Clarke pulled open the doors with all the strength she could muster, sending the heavy metal clanging against the walls.

The room tapered off into silence, the sound of the door still ringing around the space. Eventually all eyes turned to her. For a brief moment, the anger that was swirling in Clarke's stomach dissolved into the overwhelming fear of having so many people looking at her. It only took the sight of Pike standing on the tables above them all to reignite that spark of rage.

"What the hell is this?!" Clarke shouted, her eyes drilling into Pike's.

Pike stared straight back at her with wide eyes, before his jaw visibly clenched. "Clarke."

The crowd parted the moment she started walking forwards. Whispers quickly turned into humming murmurs as she stepped up onto the table beside him.

"Next time you want me killed? Do it yourself." Clarke whispered harshly, her back to the crowd. Anya didn't follow her onto the stage, but Clarke could just see her taking her position in front of the tables out the corner of her eye.

"I don't know what you're talking about, Clarke." He replied quietly, his head ducking close to hers.

“Of course not.”

"I thought she was dead!" A voice called out from the crowd, the murmurs quickly growing louder.

Finally turning to face the wholly confused crowd behind her, Clarke smiled as reassuringly as possible. “Apparently not.”

"Clearly we were mistaken!" Pike shouted out to the crowd, a beaming smile replacing the terse expression he had been wearing just moments before. "But the message remains the same here people. We cannot trust the Grounders."

Despite the anger that must have been spiking through her, Anya held her ground in front of the table, only the grinding of her jaw giving the woman's feelings away.

"And why should they trust you instead?" Clarke asked loud enough for the crowd to hear her.

“What are you doing?” Pike questioned lowly, his head ducking closer to hers again.

“What am I doing?” She replies, loud enough for the people in front of them to hear. Pike's eye visibly twitched at her choice of volume. “I'm asking why they should trust someone who just told them I was dead.”

A grin appeared on his face as he shook his head. “I got my information from Hannah, just as everyone else here did-”

“And what information did your second in command give you exactly?” Clarke asked, her eyes squinting and her arms folding across her chest.

Pike's hands came to rest on his hips. “Is that why you pretended to be attacked? To undermine me?” He challenged back. Clarke saw red at the light mumbling of voices in front of her.

He was trying to turn it around on her, to turn it into a political ploy on her part rather than the failed assassination attempt it was. “Pretend? Maybe you'd like us to take everyone to where the attack happened and they can make their own minds up.”

Noise spread throughout the crowd again and Pike lifted his hands to try and quiet the mutterings. There was still a red raw line in the centre of his hand and Clarke wondered if he was purposefully showing them the injury the Commander had inflicted.

“Listen to me. Listen.” He ordered. It wasn't until even the quietest of the whispers had stopped that he continued. “I taught most of your children on the Ark, I gave them the skills that meant they could survive on this ground when they needed to most. Before any of this I was a teacher you could trust.” He paused, looking around at the faces in front of them. “Can you really trust the word of a criminal over mine?”

“Do you know why I was in solitary?” Clarke asked him and she could see by the subtle widening of his eyes that he knew he had just made a mistake.

“The reason why doesn't-”

“I knew the oxygen system was failing.” A stunned silence descended on the room. “I wanted to tell everyone, and they had me arrested and my dad floated for it. I was imprisoned for wanting you," she announced whilst looking out at the people in front of her, "to know the truth.”

Pike's fists clenched at his sides. “I sent my people to scout out the enemies army when our own Chancellor was too scared to. It was me that uncovered the savages plot to destroy us-” He scrambled, aware that he was quickly losing the favour of the crowd.

"The only plot I've seen today was the one to kill me." Clarke said quietly, but Pike made no indication that he had heard her.

“It's me that you the people of Arkadia can trust in. Clarke knew about the army, she knew their leader had escaped, and did she tell us? No. Because Clarke Griffin cannot be trusted. Just like the enemy cannot be trusted! And we all know what we should be doing to the enemy-" He began.

The anger that had been boiling away inside of her finally crawled its way out. “The Grounders are not our enemy!” She bellowed, surprised at the volume her voice suddenly took on.

Pike's form towered over her own, but Clarke didn't back down as her bared down on her. "Then why are they trying to take this land? This land is ours now!"

"This wasn't our land to take!" The blonde shot straight back.

"The Grounders have taken enough from us!" He shouted, "We've paid the price! And I will stop at nothing to make sure we take what we're owed. I will kill each and every one of them if I have to."

"Just like you tried to kill the Chancellors daughter?" She asked calmly as she stepped further in his space.

Pike paused, the rage contorting his face as he realised exactly what Clarke had just done.

"That's enough, Charles!" Kane's enraged voice interrupted before Clarke could fire anything back. She couldn't remember ever hearing the man so angry.

At some point during their short debate, her mother and Kane had entered the canteen. Just like when Clarke had walked through them, the crowd parted to allow Kane onto the tables.

"You should be ashamed of yourself, Charles." Kane muttered, putting himself between Clarke and Pike before turning to the crowd. "Each and every one of you that still supports this man should be ashamed. Clarke-" He opened his hand towards her. "Clarke is the reason we are all here today."

The room was completely silent and Clarke felt an uneasiness starting the roll in her stomach. "We owe Clarke our lives, and this is the thanks you show her? Who else here would have been able to make a deal with the enemy Commander? A Commander that was threatening to destroy us because of of all the things we'd done to provoke her."

"We did nothing-" Pike began to interrupt.

The veins on the side of Kane's neck looked ready to burst when he twisted to face the man again. "We did more than enough!"

Pike's jaw ground visibly, but despite the clear anger on his face he kept himself from responding.

"We owe Clarke our lives,” Kane continued, his hands wide open at his sides, “because who else could have made the decisions she did? Who else would have made the sacrifices she has? Time and time again she's sacrificed herself, her own happiness for you, her people and she has never asked for anything in return. Yet here you all are. Supporting a man that calls her the enemy. A man that tried to kill her."

"You have no proof." Pike tutted, but the crowd merely shuffled uncomfortably at his words.

"Clarke has never let us down." Kane continued. "She never will let us down.”

“Please-” The other man scoffed, but this time Kane didn't let him interrupt.

“I trust in Clarke. The Commander trusts in Clarke. You. You, the people should trust in Clarke." He said, the anger finally giving way to a quieter tone. "It's time to change Arkadia, for the better, for our future and there is only one person I trust to do that.”

The uneasiness in Clarke's stomach increased tenfold.

“I'm revoking my nomination for the next Chancellor of Arkadia. Instead I nominate Clarke Griffin for Chancellor, Clarke Griffin the true leader of our people."

The blonde wasn't entirely sure what had just happened. Judging by the silence around her, the room didn't either.

It was Lincoln, standing protectively beside Clarke's mother, who's hands started to clap together first. Despite the clear disbelief on her mom's face, she soon joined in. In the blink of an eye the whole room exploded in a wave of noise as hands clapped together.

Being elected Chancellor hadn't even crossed her mind as a possibility. Numbly, Clarke raised her hand to wave at the crowd as Kane wrapped his arm around her shoulder.

"You've got this, Clarke." He whispered to her, his voice full of pride.

With a single scathing look towards her, Pike stormed off the table, a small group of the audience following after him as he marched out the room.

"The polls will open at nine!" Her mother shouting over the slowly dying noise of the crowd. "You will have twelve hours to cast your vote!"

"I thought you just came here to ensure the result of the election." Anya muttered, her arms crossing over her chest as Clarke eventually stepped down off the table.

The blonde couldn't help grimacing. "Lexa always said I'd be a good leader."

"I'm not sure this was what she had in mind." The Grounder quipped back.

 “I won't apologise Abby.” Kane rushed out once the door closed behind the four of them. After Clarke had made it through the thick throng of people with Kane and Anya in tow, her mom had quickly led them away from the canteen and into the room Lexa had stabbed Pike in just a week earlier. “Clarke is the right choice for Chancellor, I know-”

“Marcus, Marcus stop.” Her mom said, holding up her hand. “A bit of warning next time is all I ask for.”

“For both of us.” Clarke muttered, her mind still trying to unravel exactly what her nomination as Chancellor would mean.

“I'm sorry, Clarke.” Kane apologies. His deep brown eyes blinked at her a few times, the frantic adrenaline that had been running through him seeming to fade away. “We thought you were dead.” He said softly.

“I should be. We left the truck to-” Clarke paused wondering how to explain her and Anya's foray into the forest. “To go to the drop ship. When we came back it was gone. Anya spotted the trap just in time.”

Her mom's brow creased. “Hannah and Monroe set a trap?”

Clarke nodded. “Pike ordered it.”

Her mom rubbed her hand over her face. “I knew he was angry, but I didn't realise he'd go this far.”

“I should have had someone else go to collect you, but Hannah was adamant that she wanted to do something useful for us.” Kane commented, his hand rubbing at the back of his neck. “I'll have them brought in from questioning.”

“Do you really think they'll give up Pike?” Her mom asked.

“The girl already did once.” Anya answered for Kane.

Her mom's eyebrows shot up, and Clarke coughed awkwardly. “Do I want to know under what circumstances she admitted that?” Her mother asked.

Anya looked thoughtful for a moment. “Gentle persuasion.”

When they had found Monroe in the garage, she had clearly been reeling from what had happened. From the way she was crying, Clarke knew there was a possibility the girl was regretting going along with the plan. Clarke let out a sigh of defeat though because she should have had Monroe sent to her mother straight away instead of marching off to the canteen.

“Pike will deny it, and Hannah's probably had the chance to get to Monroe by now.” The blonde conceded.

Kane nodded solemnly. “I'll have them both removed from the guard regardless.”

“Thank you,” Her mom suddenly blurted out, her eyes on Anya, “for saving Clarke.”

“Heda made me swear to protect her. I do not plan on letting her die under my watch.” The other woman explained, her hands crossing behind her back.

“You two must be exhausted, Anya I can have a room prepared-” Her mom began to offer, but Anya quickly cut across her.

“I'll be staying with Clarke.”

“We can have a guard placed outside Clarke's room-”

“I'll be staying with Clarke.” Anya repeated.

Her mom looked between them both for a moment. “Then I'll have a new room set up for you both.” Her mom replied as she moved towards the door.

“Mom!” Clarke called before she could leave the room. “How's Raven?”

 “I'll wait out here.” Anya quietly prompted, but Clarke continued to look through the glass doors. “If you ever decide to go in.”

“You know, the previous guard Lexa gave me observed quietly.”

Anya scoffed, leaning her body against the wall of the corridor. “You probably scared him.”

“And I don't scare you?” Clarke replied, her eyebrows rising at the other woman unsheathing her dagger.

“I've seen you trying to swim, Sky girl.” Anya smiled as she ran the tip of the blade under her nail. “No you don't scare me. Now go see your friend before I become a physical observer.”

Clarke couldn't help smiling at the Grounder. Reaching out, she pushed the button for the door release and waited for it to hiss open. The noise of the door opening had Raven rousing from her sleep, her body shifting slightly as Clarke approached her bed.

“Hey.” Clarke smiled as Raven's sleepy eyes began to blink open.

“Hey,” Raven croaked, her brows furrowing in confusion. “I thought you were dead?”

“I'm harder to kill than people think.” The smirk that was on Clarke's face disappeared when Raven tried to shuffle her body up the mattress, her face grimacing at the pain. “How are you?”

“Tired. Turns out being in constant pain is the most exhausting thing ever.” The woman dead panned.

“I'm sorry, Raven.”

In return Raven scoffed, her eyes rolling back as she finally settled herself upright. “Unless you were the jackass that left that wire trailing across the floor then this was hardly your fault.”

“Still,” Clarke replied. “I'm sorry this happened to you.”

“What are you even doing here?” Despite how abrasive it was, Clarke knew Raven didn't mean any harm by it.

“The election. Mom wasn't sure Kane would win, so I came back to Arkadia with Anya.” Clarke explained, pulling up a chair sit beside the bed.

“Anya...” Raven tapered off, her eyes scrunching as she tried to remember the name. “Oh, Grounder, tried to kill us, multiple times, then we accidentally shot her? That Anya?”

Clarke nodded, her lips twitching at Raven's description of the woman.

“You like friends now or something, princess?” The injured woman asked. Clarke jolted at the old, familiar nickname. It had been months since she heard it, but images of Finn were instantly flashing behind her eye lids.

“Yeah,” Clarke nodded. “She's a good person.”

Raven let out a dry laugh as she started to rub at her leg over the bed sheets. “Next you'll be telling me your friends with Lexa now.”

Clarke coughed awkwardly. “Did you speak to Nyko? About the painkillers?”

Raven grunted and pointed to the table beside the bed. “He gave me some ass smelling cream. It wasn't doing anything.”

Picking it up, Clarke watched the thick green substance as it slid across the glass of the jar. “Did he say how long you needed to use it for?”

“Yeah, like two months,” Raven huffed, her arms crossing over her chest. “I can't wait two months, Clarke. Your mom's already threatening to have me taken off work duty completely.”

“Maybe... Maybe it would do you good to rest up a couple of months, Raven-” Clarke tried to carefully suggest. Her mother had already moved her to looking after Jaha, but Raven was still doing extra work on the side. Clarke trusted her mom when she said Raven's body wouldn't be able to cope much longer with the constant stress the woman was putting it under.

“I'm not an invalid, Clarke!” The other woman shot back before Clarke even had the chance to finish.

“That's not what I'm saying and you know it.”

Raven let out another puff of air before she dropped her head back onto the pillows. “Yeah, yeah I know, I just don't like feeling useless.”

"You're the only person that thinks that, Raven." Clarke comforted.

The doors to the medical bay hissed open and Clarke jerked her head up to see Jaha standing in the doorway.

“Raven.” He greeted.

“Oh great,” Raven said quietly. “He's about to preach at me. You might want to skip this one.”

With a smile beaming across his face, Jaha slowly approached them. “Good evening, Clarke.”

“Jaha, hi, I was just on my way out.” Reaching down Clarke squeezed at Raven's hand until she looked up. “Just think about what I said.”

 “Do you think you will win?” Anya asked as she slipped beneath the sheets of her cot.

“Maybe.” Clarke muttered, her eyes tracing the lines of the ceiling.

Some of Pike's supporters would definitely be questioning if he was as trustworthy as he made out. She would be relying on all the votes that would have been going to Kane coming her way too. If she'd had a few days in Arkadia first, Clarke might have been able to sway people one way or the other, but with the vote happening over night and into the morning she was going to have to trust that Kane knew what he was doing when he nominated her in his place.

“Do you want to win?” The other woman pushed.

“No.” Clarke replied honestly. She had two main tasks when she came to Arkadia. Her becoming Chancellor would effectively accomplish both. Pike wouldn't become Chancellor and rather than having to convince Kane to let her take some guards and weapons to help fight against Nia, all she had to do was order it. “But becoming Chancellor will make things easier.”

Anya hummed in response.

Despite the physical exhaustion and her aching muscles, Clarke felt too keyed up to even attempt sleeping. Judging by Anya's own wide eyed stare at the ceiling, she felt the same.

“Roan once asked me what it was I wanted." Clarke began and Anya once again hummed. "I told him peace."

"Everyone wants peace, Clarke." The other woman muttered, matching Roan's own response to her answer.

"What do you want, Anya?”

She was silent for a long time and Clarke had to turn her head to check if the woman had fallen asleep. “To travel through the Glowing Forests with Lexa again.”

“Did you go together when she was your second?” Clarke asked.

Anya nodded her head against the pillow. “One of the furs in her room is from the trip. I told her the bear was too big for her to take down alone.” Tilting her head towards her, Anya smiled. “So she killed two of them.”

Clarke couldn't help the laugh that bubbled inside of her.

“I was furious with her, but she looked so proud of herself I could hardly stay angry at her.” Anya continued and Clarke could hear the fondness in her voice.

“She was lucky to have you.” The blonde smiled before she shuffled onto her side. “Both of us are.”

“I do not believe in luck.”

“Did Lexa ask you?” Anya looked at her in confusion for a moment. “To help me the way you did?”

“No,” the other woman sighed as she turned back to the ceiling. “She wanted me to leave you be and respect your request for space.”

That first week in Polis felt like years ago. Clarke had been angry at Lexa, she'd been angry at Anya too, but without the other woman's intervention, Clarke wasn't sure she wouldn't have thrust her blade into the side of Lexa's throat when she had the chance.

“I'm glad you ignored her.” Clarke said sincerely.

“Getting you to bathe was a favour to us all.”

The blonde rolled her eyes. “It wasn't that bad.”

A gentle chortle of laughter sounded from the other side of the room in response.

“You were hurting,” Anya quietly explained, her tone serious once more. “Lost in your own pain and suffering to see the potential you were wasting. Just like Lexa when she first came to me.”

“But you didn't have to help me.”

“No, I don't suppose I did.” Anya said distractedly as she placed her hands under the back of her head.

It struck her then that despite all the help Anya had offered her, and Lexa, and even Ontari, Clarke had no idea if anyone way there for the General. Lexa was the obvious candidate, but she was the Commander of Thirteen clans and Anya didn't seem the kind to want to burden anyone with her own feelings. Her heart hurt at the thought.

“If you ever-”

“Clarke.” Anya warned.

“No. I know you hurt too, Anya, and I know your people think it's weak, but I'm here okay?”

The other woman didn't look at her, and Clarke was sure she wasn't going to get any reply at all when she saw Anya's head subtly nod. “Okay.” She whispered barely loud enough for Clarke to hear.

 After talking to Anya, sleep had come surprisingly easy for her that night. Whether it was the comforting sound of the other woman's light snoring or the absolute exhaustion from hiking non-stop for hours Clarke wasn't sure.

Breakfast had been a quiet affair alone with Anya in their shared room, Truthfully, Clarke was thankful for the opportunity to relax with the other woman for a brief moment. That moment of relaxation wasn't to last though. Clarke groaned as her mom walked into the communications room just as she was setting up the radio.

“I won didn't I?”

Her mom frowned. “Overwhelmingly.”

Dropping the receiver that had been in her hand back onto the desk, Clarke rose to her feet. “What happens now?”

“I start by congratulating you on winning the election and giving you the Chancellors pin...”

Clarke could sense her mom's hesitance. “And then?”

Her mothers next words had her grimacing. “And then you need to give a speech.”

The radio crackled behind her and Clarke could just make out a static ridden voice. It sounded like Lexa, but she couldn't help squinting her eyes at the barely audible Trigedasleng that seemed to be bleed together.

“Lexa?” Her mom questioned, and Clarke's head snapped away from the radio. “I'll come get you when it's time.”

“Thanks mom.” Clarke replied, her hands already adjusting the dials as she slid back into the seat until Lexa's voice came through clear.

“Clarke?” There was a slight hesitance in her tone, but Clarke still found herself relaxing at the familiar voice.


“This is... Strange.”

Clarke smiled at the uncertainty in Lexa's voice. “You'll get used to it.”

The woman on the other end of the radio made an uncommitted noise of agreement. “How is the election?”

“It's... Already over.”

“From your freedom to talk to me, I take it Pike did not win?”

“No, Pike didn't win...” Clarke let her voice trail off because she wasn't entirely sure how to explain to Lexa the sudden turn in events that had been the past 24 hours.

“Clarke.” She could hear the exasperation in the Commander's tone. “What happened?”

“I... I sort of won the election.”

A deep sigh came from the other end of the radio. “I'm not sure why I expected anything less. Titus will be pleased at least.”

“Titus? I thought me falling off the tower was the only thing that would please him.” The blonde joked light. A short burst of melodic laughter came through the radio, making Clarke heart swell at the sound.

“He would be happy enough if you were just horribly maimed.” Lexa quipped. Clarke was still growing used to the lighter side of Lexa, but she could clearly imagine the tiny upturned smirk that must have been pulling at her lips. “Now you are the Chancellor he'll be expecting you to spend more time in Arkadia.”

“Titus expects a lot of things of me, Lexa.” The other woman didn't reply and Clarke knew the Commander's teeth were probably worrying her lip. “What is it?”

“Now you're Chancellor you will need to wear the brand.” Lexa stated. “Are you okay with that?”

“I-” Just a few short weeks ago, Clarke wouldn't have hesitated. The answer would have been a short no, probably followed by an angry snarl about how much Lexa had betrayed her. This was the tradition of the Grounders though. Even if Clarke didn't agree with the act of stamping the Commander's ownership on her arm, she knew this was something Lexa wouldn't be able to protect her from. “Yeah, yeah I am.”

“I'll update the ambassadors of the good news, most of them will be pleased with this development.”

“And the others?” Clarke questioned curiously.

“The others have spent too much time with Titus.” Lexa paused for a moment before continuing. “All the clans are now represented in Polis.”

“Oh.” Nerves erupted in Clarke's stomach. With all the clans now represented, Lexa would finally be able to call the vote for blood must not have blood. “When will you be having it?”

“Tomorrow morning. Some of the ambassadors have asked for longer.”

“Do you think it will pass?” She asked, trying to keep the worry out of her tone.

“Yes. With an almost complete majority.” The uncertainty of the week before was gone and it felt like a weight off the blonde's shoulders to know Lexa was so confident about the vote.

“And Nia?”

“A few more prods at our defences, but otherwise she remains quiet. How was you journey to Arkadia?” Clarke swallowed. She should tell Lexa what happened, that Pike had tried to kill both her and Anya. The threat had been thwarted though- “Clarke?”

“It was fine.” She quickly lied.

“I'm glad. Can you have your warriors gathered for the day after tomorrow?” Lexa asked, moving the conversation back towards more comfortable ground.

Now that she had been confirmed as Chancellor, there would be no one to convince. “Yes.” She replied confidently.

“Good. Tell Anya they need to be led to the fields west of Enyo. We will be waiting for you there.”

Clarke let out a heavy breath. Things had been moving so quickly, it was hard to imagine that in just a few days time they might be marching to war together. “So it's really happening?”

“Are you nervous?” Lexa asked.

“Yes.” Clarke quietly admitted.

“I will see us through this war, Clarke.” Lexa said gently. Clarke could imagine the way she would take her hand if she was there in person. The way her thumb would drag over her knuckles in comfort.

“I know- I-” Clarke took another deep breath. “I know.”

“We will talk again tomorrow?” Lexa asked, her voice softer than it had been for their whole conversation.

“At the same time.” She confirmed, already looking forwards to hearing the woman’s voice again.

“And Clarke? Your people have chosen well, you are the best leader they could ever hope for.”

Warmth spread through her chest again and Clarke smiled. “Goodbye, Commander.”

Goodbye, Chancellor.”

Sighing, Clarke switched the dial around to off. It would be another 24 hours until she spoke to Lexa again and the blonde couldn't help her hand stroking over the receiver before she hooked it back onto the side of the radio.

“You two sound close.” Her mom's voice had Clarke swivelling in her seat in surprise.

“Close?” She almost squeaked.

Her mom raised her eyebrow. “Yes. Close.” She said again, and Clarke swallowed at her choice to stress the word.

“Lexa's been helping...”

“You have feelings for her?” Her mom asked making Clarke's eyes widen in horror. “I'm your mother, Clarke. There are some things you can never hide from me.”

The blonde stuttered for a few moments. Anya already knew and with her mom knowing too a worry blossomed in her stomach that her and Lexa wouldn't be able to keep what was happening between them a secret. Taking a deep breath, Clarke nodded. “Yes. I do.”

“And she returns them?”

After another moment of hesitation, Clarke nodded again. “Yes.”

“She betrayed us." Her mom simply stated. Clarke wished she could get a read of what her mom was feeling. "She betrayed you, Clarke.”

The blonde felt like sinking into the seat. “I know.”

“But you still love her?” Her mom's voice wasn't in the slightest bit accusatory, but to Clarke it sounded less of a question and more of a statement of fact.

“I- I-” Clarke stammered because she hadn't really thought that far ahead. Did she love Lexa? “I trust her” She quickly answered instead.

“You have to be able to separate your personal relationship with Lexa from your role as Chancellor now, Clarke.” Despite herself, the blonde couldn't help letting out a puff of laughter. “What?” Her mom questioned.

“Lexa said the same thing before I left.”

Her mother smiled at her. “She's a smart woman.”

“You're not angry?” Clarke asked in surprise.

Her mom's brow creased and she stepped forwards until she could kneel down in front of her daughter. “I will never be angry at your for finding love, Clarke. I might not agree with everything Lexa's done, with everything-” She paused for a moment and Clarke could see the subtle regret in her eyes. “With everything that you've done, but you'll always be my daughter and I'll always love you.”

There was a tapping at the window and Clarke couldn't help smiling at the bird that was lightly hitting the glass with its beak.

“Why didn't we know there was life down here? There's literally thousands of people living here, a whole civilisation, how didn't we see them?”

“We did.” Her mom replied. Clarke felt her brow creasing as her mom settled into the seat opposite her. “We just didn't believe the sightings. There were things that people saw on the ground that we couldn't explain. Collections of lights were the most common, then there was the explosion a few years ago-”


Her mom looked lost in thought for a moment. “The explosion? Close to here actually...”

“Lexa told me the Mountain Men had used a missile before...”

Her mom let out a puff of air. “We called it an unexplained natural phenomenon.”

“Nobody checked? The Ark had telescopes, why did no one look to see?” Clarke questioned.

“No one wanted to look at a dead planet, Clarke. Nobody wanted to see what was left behind.” Her mother explained. “Before the explosions people would look to the sky and swear they saw something. That there was life looking down on them. Once we were up there people did the same thing, except they looked at the ground and swore there was still life looking up at them.” The bird at the window clicked its beak one last time before jumping backwards and out of their sight. “People thought they just didn't want to feel alone in the universe, that they just needed hope that there was more than just the Ark out there.”

“Well they were right." Clarke laughed dryly. "There is life here.”

The older woman nodded her head. “By the time the dust cloud had cleared they had already moved the telescopes to look out into space, the plan was to move some back around a couple of years before re-entry.”

“Do you think things would have been different if we knew? If they'd kept some pointing towards Earth?”

“I- I don't know... A lot of people would have died.” Clarke creased her brow in confusion, prompting her mom to continue. “There were too many people on the Ark, it's why families were limited to one child, limited resources and limited shuttle room. By the time re-entry was possible...”

“There would be enough room on the remaining shuttles.” Clarke finished for her.

“The plan was never to bring the whole Ark to the ground.” Sighing her mom looked down at herself, smiling sadly. “I forgot to give you this earlier.”

Her mom reached up to remove the Chancellors pin off her collar and rose from her seat. “Your dad would be proud of you.”

Clarke couldn't help scoffing as stood up and watched her mom pushing the clip of the pin into place on her own jacket. Her dad would be a lot of things if he was still alive. Proud of her wasn't one of them.

“Hey, look at me.” Her mom prompted, tilting her daughter's chin up. “He would be so, so proud of you Clarke.”

“He wouldn't even recognise me any more.” Clarke muttered, ducking her head away again.

“Jake loved you, Clarke, more than you can ever imagine.” Looking up, the blonde could see the tears gathering in her mother's eyes. “When you were born, he was too scared to hold you.”

A smile tugged at Clarke's lips. “Dad was never scared of anything.”

“You were so small, and so delicate. He thought he would hurt you if he even tried to touch you.” A wistful smile slowly appeared on her mom's face. “Then one night I woke up and there he was. Just sitting there next to the bed with you in his arms, he looked so happy Clarke, and he was so proud of you as you grew up. Watching you grow into such a beautiful, smart woman.”

Tears were starting to well up in her own eyes and Clarke had to blink heavily to stop them. “I miss him so much, mom.”

“I know sweetie, me too.” Her mom whispered before she pulled her into an embrace.

The knock at the door had Clarke quickly pulling away from her mom's grasp. “Clarke, Abby, it's time.” Kane said gently.

“Thank you, Marcus.” Her mom quickly replied and Clarke couldn't help noticing the warm smile they shared.

“What about you and Marcus anyway?” The blonde asked once the man in question had left them again.

“Marcus?" Instantly Clarke knew how she must have looked to her mom when she had tried to deny Lexa. "He's been a good friend. He would have made a good Chancellor too.”

“Yeah, he's a good man.” Clarke assured her. Her dad would have thought so too and Clarke wasn't sure if her mom was holding back on her feelings for Kane out of respect for her dad or for her daughter, but either way it didn't mater. Clarke knew her mom loved her dad and even though her heart still ached at the memory of her betrayal, she knew even in that moment her mom loved him.  “Mom, you know dad would want you to be happy right? That I want you to be happy.”

Her mom blinked in surprise. “Maybe... Maybe one day we will be.”

“Just-" Swallowing Clarke remembered Finn. She remembered Atom and Octavia. She remembered Bellamy and Gina. "Just don't leave it too long. Things here change too quickly.”

“Are you ready for your speech?” Her mom whispered to Clarke as she led her to the make shift stage that was still at the front of the canteen.

“I didn't exactly have a lot of time to prepare one.”

Her mom gave her a comforting smile. “It's not like you not to have something to say, Clarke.”

The crowd applauded as they both stepped up into view, and her mom smiled at them. “It is with great honour, and with great pride that I introduce my daughter, and our new Chancellor, Clarke Griffin!”

The noise was almost crushing, but Clarke smiled regardless, waiting patiently for the crowd to quieten.

“I don't have a speech prepared and I don't have comforting words for you.” Clarke announced once the clapping had stopped. “The Ice Nation and the coalition are at war. That means we are at war too.”

“We can't escape this. We fight with the Commander and make sure she wins or- Or the Ice Nation will see us as their next targets. Together this coalition is strong, and we are strongest if we're in it to." Clarke paused to look around at the faces that were studying her. "I can't promise it will be easy, I can't promise we'll always get our own way, but I can promise that we will be represented on that coalition. We will help shape this coalition with our technology and with our knowledge and they will help us too. The Trikru are already interested in helping us with our crops, and that's just the beginning. Once this war is over we can trade with these people, we can make a life here for us and our children. Trust me to see you through this war and into the future.”

The crowd roared anew and a genuine smile pulled across Clarke's lips as a chant for the future began to echo around the room.

 “There will probably be a call for another election after this war.” Kane explained as they walked down the corridors. "Pike won't let this go so easily."

“Clarke Griffin. The Commander of Death and Wartime Chancellor.” Anya mocked quietly from beside her. “Do you enjoy collecting titles, Sky girl?”

“We can always add Slayer of Anya kom Trikru to that list.” She muttered back. “I'm just keeping the seat warm for Ka-”

Around the corner was a sight Clarke had never expected to see again. Turning her head to the side she could see her mom looking on just as shocked as she was.

“Anya? Could you and Kane leave us for a minute.” Clarke requested, her eyes trained back on the figure in the corridor.

Anya didn't argue her dismal and for that Clarke was thankful. “There was a training ground you wanted to show me Marcus?”

“Yes. Right this way.”

Neither her mom or her turned to see if they had left, both still fixated on the woman in front of them.

“Raven?” Clarke called and the engineer stopped her pacing.

“Oh.” A bright smile spread across Raven's face, her head tilting slightly. “Hi Clarke. Hi Doc.”

“What are you doing out of bed? Your leg-” Her mom began to say.

“Is absolutely fine.” To Clarke's horror, Raven jumped into the air, both feet leaving the floor before she landed heavily on her injured leg. She didn't crumple to the ground though and the smile on her face only grew wider. “Okay, glad that worked, hadn't tested that, it was just a hypothesis.”

“That's impossible.” Her mom practically breathed.

“I don't know,” Raven smirked before causing them both to suck in another sharp breath of air as she jumped on the spot again. “Seems to be pretty possible to me.”

As soon as Raven's feet hit the ground, her mom was quickly striding down the corridor to stand directly in front of the other woman. “Raven, what did you do?”

Clarke followed straight after her, watching her mom as she grabbed onto Raven's cheeks. Her pupils looked fine, her eyes no more alert than they usual would be and apparently tiring of her mom's intense stare, Raven pulled her hands away.

“Jaha, as it turns out, does have the answers.” Raven smiled before looking up over Clarke's shoulder, her head nodding slightly. It was with great confusion that Clarke turned around only to find no one there. “Yeah, yeah, yeah okay. Look, it turns out the City of Light is real.”

“The City of what?” Clarke asked.

“Light.” Her mom repeated for her. “Thelonious wouldn't stop talking about it when he first got here.”

“I can see why, it's amazing Abby, you should come. You too, Clarke, it would stop all this,” Raven waved her hand. “Pain or whatever it is your going through.”

“You've been? I- Raven- Sweetie,” Her mom held Raven's cheeks in her hands again. “What did you take?”

“A chip.” She answered happily.

Her mom shook her head. “A what?”

Stepping out of her mom's hold once more, Raven turned around before lifting up the long tendrils of her ponytail. “A chip.”

Clarke gasped. The cut. It's location was gut wrenchingly familiar. “We need to find Jaha. Now.”

“Why? Clarke what's wrong?” Her mom asked, but Clarke didn't reply as she started to march down the corridor towards the old server room. “Raven, go to the medical bay.”

“Okay, Abby.” She heard Raven cheerfully reply.

Clarke could hear her mom's footsteps rushing to catch her up. “You've seen that mark before haven't you?” The older woman guessed.

“Yes.” She replied simply.

The door to the old server room flew open under Clarke's hand. Without hesitation, she stepped into the room, her eyes darting over the stack of black boxes. “Jaha!”

Jaha quickly appeared from one of the stacks. “Clarke, Chancellor. How can I help you?” He smiled at them.

Clarke didn't have the patience for it though, and she felt her shoulders tensing as she stepped deeper into the room. “What did you do to her?”

“I assume you're talking about Miss Reyes?” Jaha tried to question innocently. Clarke could feel her jaw grinding and she just knew her face looked thunderous. Finally ducking his head away, Jaha relented. “I cured her.”

“You can't just cure chronic pain, Thelonious.” Her mom accused, her eyes narrowing a the man.

“Show me the chip.” Clarke ordered.

Shaking his head, Jaha let out a light chuckle of laughter. “That won't be necessary. Abby-”

“I asked you to show me the chip.” Clarke ordered again, moving the lapel of her jacket so Jaha could see the pin of the chancellor. “Now.”

“You made Clarke Chancellor?” He asked her mother.

“The people voted for it.” Clarke replied instead.

Jaha hesitated a moment before reaching down to the floor to pick up the bag he had been carrying with him every time Clarke saw him.

“Here.” He said as he opened up the front pocket.

There were hundreds of them, little rectangles of blue and the symbol stamped on them had Clarke's heart pounding. There was no way it was a coincidence. The cut on the neck. The matching symbol.

“Take the bag.” Clarke whispered to her mom, her breathing coming in uneven starts.

“Stop!” Jaha's eyes blazed with anger as her mother reached for the bag. “I cannot let you take that.”

“But you will.” Clarke challenged back.

Jaha's gaze seemed to shift over her shoulder and Clarke didn't like the cold sensation that seemed to be running through her veins.

“Thelonious the chips are probably harmless, but what if it was Wells you were giving this to, wouldn't you want to be sure they're safe?” Her mom asked.

Jaha's focus snapped back to her mother. Clarke watched carefully as his brow creased in confusion. “Wells...” He had forgotten him again, Clarke realised. “Yes, of course, if my son was to take one I would want to be sure. Run your tests, I just ask you return them to me when you're done.”

“You have my word, Thelonious.” Her mom confirmed softly before Clarke pushed open the door for her.

“Thank you, Abby.” Jaha nodded, before looking at Clarke darkly. “We will see you again soon, Clarke.”

“No one touches these.” Clarke ordered once the door shut behind them. Kneeling down, the blonde pulled one of the chips out of the bag. “I need to talk to Lexa about them.”


“Trust me. You don't want to know.” Clarke muttered, pocketing the little chip. “No one else finds out about this.”

Her mom looked at her curiously for a moment. “Are you asking me as Clarke or the Chancellor?”



Clarke's eyes flew open.

Do your people not understand sleep?” Anya mumbled in barely audible Trigedasleng from the other side of the room.

They couldn't have been asleep for more than a couple of hours and Clarke let out a groan at the discomfort of being so suddenly awoken. Pressing the heels of her palm into her eyes for a moment, Clarke tried to wake herself. Her first full day back at the Ark hadn't been half as physically exhausting as the day before, but mentally Clarke felt completely drained. Her mom and Kane had spent most the afternoon updating her on the current climate in Arkadia and then most of the evening helping her pick the right guards to take with her when she returned to Lexa.

There was another knock on the door and Clarke pushed herself up from the bed.

Shuffling towards the door, the blonde rested her head against the heavy metal. “What is it?”

“One of the patrols found a Grounder.” A deep voice rumbled from the other side. “From the Ice Nation, they've asked to speak with you.”

Clarke felt her brow creasing. “Who did they ask to see?”

“I'm sorry, I don't-”

“Me or the Chancellor, what were their exact words?” She quickly clarified.

“They asked for Clarke.” The deep voice answered.

The blood felt like it had drained from her face. “Where are they?”

“The medical bay.”

“We'll be there shortly.” Without waiting for a reply, Clarke quickly flicked on the light. “A member of Azgeda wants to talk.”

They could have done this in the morning.” Anya sighed in defeat before swinging her feet out of the bed.

“It's the middle of the night, we're tired, that's probably why they've done this now.” It's what Clarke would have done.

Anya's boot thudded onto the floor as she quickly pushed her foot inside. “You cannot trust what they say.”

“I know.” Clarke replied, tying the laces of her own boots. “There's something else I want from them. Are you ready?”

Anya nodded, not bothering with her coat as she strode towards the door. “Let's go.”

There were guards waiting for them on the other side of the door, and Clarke muttered her greetings at them before they were leading her through the halls of the Ark.

“Mom?” She called as soon as the doors to the medical bay hissed open and Clarke looked around the room mystified for a moment. There was no Grounder there, only Raven sound asleep at the side of the room. Just as the panic was starting to set in the door to her mom's office clicked open. “Where are they?” The blonde quickly asked.

“Monty knocked her out with his gun.” Her mom explained. “Hannah was with him, I've put her in my office.”

Clarke would have to deal with Hannah in the morning, there were more pressing issues.

“We should hear her out, Clarke.” Her mother tried to encourage as she marched towards the room. Even talking to a member of the Azgeda was a risk. If a rumour made it back to the coalition that she'd even entertained the idea of whatever Nia's proposal was it could spell disaster for Arkadia's position within it.

“Let's do this.” Clarke said before moving around her mom and pushing through the door. The two guards standing on either side of Grounder jumped as the door slammed open. The scars marked across her face clearly showed her as Ice Nation. There was a bloody cut on the woman's forehead where Clarke assumed Monty's gun must have caught her.

“Who are you?” Clarke instantly asked.

“Echo kom Azgeda.” The woman answered slowly.

Settling in the seat opposite her, Clarke folded her hands in front of her. “And why are you here, Echo kom Azgeda?”

“Queen Nia would like to offer the Skaikru a deal.”

“Let me guess, Nia wants an alliance?” Clarke fielded. She wasn't surprised to see Echo nod.

“This war is not about the Skaikru.” Clarke almost scoffed because it became about them the moment Nia decided to blow her people up in the Mountain as a power play with the Commander. “Join Queen Nia and you will not need to fight in this war.”

This time Clarke did scoff. “You actually expect me to believe that?”

“The Commander has forced Nia to make hard choices-”

Clarke's anger suddenly spiked. “She killed 49 of my people.”

“An unfortunate-”

“You might want to think before finishing that sentence.” Anya growled from behind her.

“How did Nia know I was coming to Arkadia?” Clarke asked suddenly.

Echo wasn't quick enough to disguise the surprise that flashed across her features. The only people that knew Clarke was returning to Arkadia were there people of Arkadia and the people of Polis. For Nia to know and have someone sent so quickly, she must have known almost the moment the ambassadors had found out. That could only mean one thing.

There was a spy in the Commander's council.

“Queen Nia knows everything-”

Clarke slammed her hands on the table as she stood up, the chair falling onto the floor behind her. “Because someone told her, so who was it?”

“Clarke-” Her mom tried to interrupt, and Clarke could just see Anya gently holding her back out the corner of her eye.

“I'm not-” Echo began.

The burning embers of rage that had been burning in Clarke's stomach suddenly ignited. Without any thought of the consequence, she gripped onto the back of Echo's head and slammed it into the table.

Blood exploded from the woman's nose as it bounced off the surface and Clarke hated the satisfaction she felt when the warrior's head lulled back on the seat.

“Who?” She repeated, her hand already on the back of Echo's head again.

Yujleda.” The woman spluttered. "It was the Yujleda."


Chapter Text

Clarke could hear the life of Arkadia buzzing around her as she waited for Lexa to radio in. Echo hadn't given them anything beyond a shaky repetition of Nia's offer. Side with the Ice Nation and her people would be spared from the war. Go against the Ice Nation and her people would be destroyed.

It hadn't taken Clarke long to realise the former Ice Queen was getting desperate.

Emerson would have known every weapon that was inside the Mountain and there was no doubt in Clarke's mind that he would have passed that information onto Nia during his time in Azgeda.

She will not attack until she can be sure of her victory.

That was what the Chief of the Blue Cliffs had told them, and the Mountains weapons combined with Lexa's army would take away the certainty of victory that Nia craved.

The radio crackled loudly, effectively jolting Clarke from her thoughts and she quickly darted forwards to pick up the receiver. "Lexa?"

"Clarke, how are-"

"The Yujleda are working with Nia." Clarke quickly spilled out, her heart pounding in her chest as she finally told Lexa the information she had been holding onto for hours.

Lexa didn't miss a beat. "You're sure?"

"Nia sent someone last night. I made her talk."

The almost feral growl from the Commander was the last thing Clarke heard before the radio cut off. The blonde knew she wouldn't hear anything else from the other woman for minutes to come. Within seconds her fingers were tapping against the desk as she waited. Five minutes quickly became ten and ten slowly morphed into twenty. Clarke's body started to crave movement to work off the nervous energy that was starting to coil in her muscles. At thirty minutes, Clarke found herself pacing whilst she waited for Lexa to return.

"Clarke? Are you still there?" Lexa's breathless voice suddenly sounded from the radio and Clarke quickly dove for the receiver.

"I'm here," She confirmed, trying to calm her shaking hands. "Is everything okay?"

"No," Lexa paused for a second. "They had a radio."

Clarke closed her eyes at the revelation and slid back into the seat. Apparently information wasn't the only thing Emerson had given Nia in her war against the Commander. With a radio linking them straight to Nia, the Yujleda would have been free to tell her all of the Commander's plans and tactics. They would have been free to tell her everything.

"The voices..." Clarke suddenly realised aloud. "Yesterday when I was tuning the radio, I thought I heard someone talking in Trigedasleng."

There was a heavy sigh from the other end of the radio. Clarke could imagine the pinch of Lexa brow as she rubbed at her temple. "I suspected they were working with Nia already, Titus had them under constant watch, but we never saw how they were getting messages out of Polis." It was nonsensical really, the twinge of disappointment Clarke felt knowing Lexa hadn't told her she suspected the Broad Leaf were moving against her. "I need an hour."

"For what?" Clarke asked her brow creasing slightly.

"For them to give me the information I need." Lexa replied and Clarke could read between the lines of what she was saying.

Clarke wouldn't ask Lexa what she intended to do to get the information from the Yujleda. Much like Lexa wouldn't ask her how she got her information from Echo. They did what they had to do, no matter the cost to their own morality. It was a far step from the girl, Clarke had been on the Ark. The blonde could never have imagined doing the things she had back then.


When they had captured Lincoln, all those months ago, back when the drop ship was fresh on the ground, even a blade through his hand hadn't cracked the Grounder. They had tortured him for days and still he hadn't spilt any information. All it had taken for Echo to talk was a broken nose.

Clarke was about to agree when it hit her. "We can't."


"The radio, if we can hear them, they can hear us." She sighed in defeat. They had already spent too long talking, there was a chance Nia had already heard everything they had said.

Lexa remained silent for a moment, and Clarke knew she was mulling over her words. "Is Anya there?"

"I'll get her." Dropping the receiver back on the table, Clarke quickly opened the door to find Anya standing exactly where she had left her.

"Lexa wants to speak to you." Clarke explained and Anya instantly pushed off the wall to follow her back into the room.

"This button here." Clarke directed after Anya had taken her seat, her hand manipulating the Grounder's into the right position.

"Heda?" The woman asked tentatively, her eyes staring nervously at the device.

"Have a messenger sent to Indra, tell her to escort you to the meeting point. Do not let Clarke out of your sight."

"You have my word, Heda." Anya replied without hesitation.

Clarke reached down to take the receiver from the other woman's hand. "Has the meeting point changed?"

"No." Lexa said as she switched back from Trigedasleng. "Nia cannot know the Yujleda plot has been uncovered, if we move positions she may suspect it."

Clarke hummed in agreement. "Then we'll see you tomorrow."

"I'll be awaiting your arrival, Chancellor."

The line burst into static again, signalling to Clarke that the other woman must have switched the radio off already.

"What happened?" Anya asked once Clarke had clipped the receiver back onto the side of the device.

"The Broad Leaf had a radio too."

Anya clicked her tongue, the seething rage on her face was clear to see. "Titus will push Lexa to kill them for their betrayal."

It wouldn't surprise Clarke if Anya would have pushed for their death too if she had still been in Polis.

"She won't, not if the vote passed." Clarke replied confidently, she knew Titus would pressure Lexa, but she also knew that Lexa was growing tired of the man's constant questioning when it came to her actions. The Commander would question them though and Clarke didn't expect she would hold back on them.

"Do you think Echo broke too easily?" Clarke asked, remembering her earlier musings.

"Nia wouldn't have sent her if she thought she would. There is no advantage in us knowing the Yujleda have been feeding her information."

Biting her lip, Clarke perched on the table and asked the question that was starting to gnaw at her. "Do you think Echo betrayed Nia?"

Anya stayed silent, her eyes growing distant and Clarke could tell she was lost in her own thoughts. "Warriors from Azgeda are trained to endure tougher torture than most members of the Trikru... A broken nose is hardly torture."

Rubbing at her neck, Clarke mentally went over everything she needed to do in preparation for the next day. "I have to talk to her again."

"I'm not letting you go in there on your own Clarke."

Rolling her eyes, Clarke let out a heavy huff of air. "She's handcuffed to the table, Anya, she can't hurt me."

Clarke knew it was just minutes ago that the Commander had ordered Anya to keep the blonde in her sights at all time, but she also knew Echo wasn't going to be breaking out her cuffs any time soon.

"You're naïve if you think that will stop her, Sky girl." Anya quietly seethed at her.

"This isn't an argument." Clarke seethed right back. "I'm going in there. Alone."

The silence between them was a tense one. When Anya's jaw twitching, Clarke thought the woman was going to lunge at her in her anger.

"Fine." The other woman finally relented. "But you don't go near her."


Before Clarke had the chance to finish, Anya was already cutting across her. "I don't care. You do not go near her, Clarke."

"Fine." She huffed again. "I won't go near her."

"I mean it, Sky girl."

Without another word, Clarke pushed open the heavy metal door that had been separating them from the Ice Nation prisoner.

"Echo kom Azgeda." Clarke greeted as she closed the door behind her.

"Wanheda." The Grounder replied, her nose still bloody from the night before. Clarke could see the dark circles that had formed under the woman's eyes. Her hands had been cuffed through the ring on the table. From the red lines on the back of her wrists, Clarke suspected the woman had already tested just how secure her bonds were.

"Did you sleep?" Clarke asked, but Echo ignored her, choosing instead to lean back as far as her cuffed hands would allow her as she studied Clarke for a moment.

"I saw you at the Mountain. You were outside with Heda when they released us," Echo flexed her hands, the skin turning white as it pulled against the metal restraints. "I didn't know who you were then."

Leaning back in her own chair, Clarke smiled. "And if you did?"

"The Azgeda in me probably would have killed you on the spot." Leaning forwards Echo scratched at the dry blood under her nose. "You're everything the legends described you as."

"The legendary Wanheda." Clarke smiled wryly at the now familiar title. "It must drive Nia insane knowing I chose to side with Heda over her."

"What do you want, Mountain Slayer?" Echo asked, her hands flexing once more. "Have you come to accept Queen Nia's terms?"

Pushing herself off the back of the chair Clarke ignored the woman's questions. "You said you were released from the Mountain, how long were you in there?"

Something dark passed over the warrior's face before her expression hardened. "Months."

Clarke nodded, watching the woman start to close off from her. The blonde would never forget the sight of the Grounders trapped in their cages. The minutes she had spent trapped with Anya inside her cage were ingrained on her memory, to have been in there for months.

"I can't imagine what that must have been like for you." Clarke said softly.

Echo remained silent, her hands clenching into fists at the memories clearly playing through her mind.

"It must have been quite the homecoming." Clarke pushed and she was surprised to hear the Azgeda warrior scoff.

"Cowards don't get homecomings, Wanheda." If her hands hadn't been cuffed to the table, Clarke was sure they would have been crossing over her chest.

Her response had Clarke furrowing her brow in confusion though. "Your people saw you as a coward?"

"You destroyed the Mountain. I was just a prisoner who did nothing." Echo explained harshly.

"I'm sorry." Clarke apologised, her voice gentle as she tried to sound as sincere as she possibly could. "That must have been hard for you."

Echo looked wary for a moment, as if Clarke was about to revoke her sympathy. "The feeling was not... Pleasant."

The Grounder's face started to soften and the white knuckles of her fists relaxed.

"Nia still trusted you though." Clarke continued to push.

"She trusted that your people already knew me because of the boy." Echo said, her face grimacing. "Bellamy."

"Then why send you now? She must have known we wouldn't trust you after you helped blow up the Mountain?" Clarke wondered aloud.

"Because I'm disposable. A commodity for our Queen to use. She expected you to kill me if you didn't accept the offer." There was no bitterness in Echo's voice and Clarke wondered if all Nia's warriors felt the same detachment from their lives.

"Are you loyal to Nia?"

"I am loyal to my clan until the day I die." Echo snapped back, her eyes suddenly blazing at the insinuation that she might not be.

Clarke folded her hands on the table and smiled. "That wasn't my question."

"Our Queen tells us Heda is weak for not destroying the Mountain herself. That Azgeda deserves her title for what we've done, but it wasn't Azgeda that destroyed the Maunon." Echo paused for a moment. "It was the Wanheda."

For a moment, Clarke studied the woman. Twice she had asked if Echo was loyal to Nia. Twice Echo had avoided answering her directly.

"Are you loyal to your clan, or are you loyal to Nia?" The blonde tried instead.

"I'm loyal to my clan," Echo repeated, her eyes searching Clarke's knowingly. "As is every warrior that left the Mountain with me."

The implication was clear. There were defectors in the Azgeda camp.

It was a risk to trust Echo's words, Anya had explicitly told her not to. Trusting her was a risk Clarke shouldn't take, not when the Commander was already vulnerable thanks to the Broad Leaf's betrayal. But if there were members of Azgeda willing to betray Nia... It was an opportunity Clarke and the coalition couldn't risk letting go of either.

"I'm not asking for you to release me, Wanheda." Echo stated calmly and Clarke blinked in surprise.

"Then what are you asking me for?"

"Take me with you-"

Shaking her head, Clarke stood abruptly before resting her hands on the table. "I'm not taking you with me."

"I can help."

Clarke stared at the Ice Nation warrior, her eyes studying her defiant features.

"Why?" The blonde finally asked.

She had to stop herself from jerking backwards when Echo suddenly stood from her seat as best she could.

"Because I'm loyal to my clan! And this war isn't one we can win with Wanheda against us!" Echo sneered. "Because the Commander of Death will kill us all!"

"I don't know what happened." Hannah smiled from across the table.

"You don't know?" Clarke asked incredulously as she leant closer to the woman.

After finishing with Echo, Hannah had been the next person on the blonde's list. Kane had offered to interview her the same way he had Monroe, but Clarke wanted to talk to the woman she knew was behind the attempt on hers and Anya's life herself.

"I went into the woods to... Relieve myself. When I came back Zoe had already moved the truck and told me the Grounders had killed you and that woman. I had no reason not to believe her." Hannah explained before smiling at her again.

Anya's hands slammed down on the table next to her. "My name is Anya, traitor."

Despite Clarke's best attempts to talk Anya down from being in the room with her, she had refused to the budge. It was one thing to let her be alone with someone that was handcuffed, but to leave her alone with a woman that had already tried to kill her once, who was without handcuffs was one step too far for Anya.

"You think I'm a traitor?" Hannah looked completely bewildered, her hand pressing to her chest as her eyes widened. "That's absurd, I came to collect you because I thought I could protect you, Clarke. Who knows why Zoe decided to try and kill you. Perhaps she was upset about Mount Weather?"

"That's not what Monroe told Kane this morning." Clarke lied and the other woman's jaw visibly tensed. It was there for barely a moment, but Clarke still saw the flash of anger in Hannah's eyes at the prospect of Monroe not sticking to the story she had clearly given her.

In truth Monroe had told him the exact same story Hannah was now telling her. According to Monroe she had waited until Hannah had gone into the woods before setting the trap herself. According to Monroe it was revenge for Clarke making a deal with the Grounders. According to Monroe, the brand new bruise that was slowly swelling her eye shut was from a door and not the bruised knuckle on Hannah's hand.

"She told us that Pike ordered you to kill me." Clarke continued. "That you forced her to go along with it."

"That sounds like a traitor to me." Anya added keeping her threatening position next to Clarke.

Hannah's eyes blazed into Anya's. "You don't know who you're talking to, savage."

Clarke had to quickly reach out to hold onto Anya's arm as she jerked forwards. "You're going to find my knife in your throat if you call me a savage one more time, traitor."

"I will not be spoken-"

Clarke cut across the pair of them before she was forced to wrestle them apart. "We're done here."

Hannah wasn't going to give her anything further in a simple questioning, not with her loyalty still firmly with Pike. Clarke could force it. The blonde knew if she wanted to she could bend and break the woman until she admitted her part in wanting to kill her. The darker part of her mind wanted to do just that.

Pushing back her seat, Clarke slowly walked around the table until she was standing directly behind Hannah. The woman tensed, her pulse visibly thundering beneath the thin skin of her neck as the blonde leaned in close.

"Try and kill me again," Clarke whispered directly into Hannah's ear. "And it won't be Anya's knife in your neck."

Without looking back, Clarke marched out the room with Anya close behind her, leaving a stunned Hannah sat blinking in her seat.

Her mom and Kane were still outside where Clarke had left them, both of them looking relieved when they caught sight of an unharmed Hannah before the door slipped shut again.

"Anything?" Kane asked and Clarke shook her head.

"She blamed Monroe." Sighing, Clarke quickly ran through her options. If she left Hannah in Arkadia it would mean Pike would have all his supporters with him. The perfect recipe for a coup whilst she was away from camp. "I want Hannah to come with us, and swap three of the guards for Pike supporters from the farm station." Clarke announced and both her mother and Kane instantly looked at each other in confusion.

"Separate the pack." Anya muttered quietly beside her.

"Are you sure that's a good idea?" Her mom sounded worried. Clarke couldn't fault her for it. Taking them with her was a risk, but leaving them all behind was an even bigger one.

"I need her and Pike separated, I either take her with me or him."

"She already tried to kill you once." Her mom continued.

"That's why I'm taking leverage." Clarke replied before looking to Kane. "Ask Harper to find Monty, I need to talk to him."

"And you don't recognise it?" Clarke asked Anya as the Grounder twirled the chip in her hands.

"This here," Anya said as she pointed to the symbol engraved on the top. "It's the symbol of the Commander. Ever present, never dying. Infinite... Apeiron."

"Lexa has it tattooed on her neck." Clarke muttered.

"It appears you know some of the Commander's secrets that even I don't." A smile pulled at Anya's lips before she flipped the chip over again. "I've never seen anything like this before though. What is it?"

"Honestly? I don't even know, Raven and Jaha called them chips..."

"Titus might know what this is."

Clarke couldn't help wincing. Going to Titus for advise was about the last thing she wanted to do. "Titus?"

"He knows secrets about the Commander's that even Lexa doesn't." Smirking, Anya handed the chip back to her. "Titus sees you as a threat. Whilst he is stuck in tradition, you challenge it, which in turn makes Lexa challenge it more than she does already."

"I think you both give me too much credit." Clarke murmured.

She was relieved that the door to the medical bay slid open before Anya could reply.

"How is she?" Clarke asked her mom as soon as the woman was close enough.

"It was like she said, the pain's gone, and she has full movement back."

Clarke bit at her lip as she mulled over the information. "Do you think it's safe?"

"No." Her mom answered instantly. "Without the pain, she won't know when to stop. She was already pushing herself, Clarke, without it..."

"Without the pain she's going to push herself too far." The blonde finished for her. There was still a worried expression pinching at her mom's brow. "What is it?"

"I've spent a lot of time with Raven and that, in there," she said whilst pointing behind her. "That's not Raven."

"Will you let her leave?" Anya asked, her curious eyes trying to look through the window.

"I can't hold her in here because I think she's too happy, but I can if the Chancellor orders me to."

It was tempting. As Chancellor, Clarke knew that was exactly what she could do now. Part of her was happy for Raven though. The pain she was feeling was gone. Her friend wasn't suffering any more.

"No." Clarke eventually replied. "I won't keep her caged up whilst I'm gone."

Sighing, the blonde pushed the button for the medical bays door and waited for it to slide open.

"Welcome to Casa de Raven." Raven smiled as Clarke approached her.

"Well, you spend enough time here." Clarke smiled back, taking a sit on the bed beside her. "How are you feeling?"

"I'm perfectly fine."

"No pain whatsoever?" Clarke asked as she picked up the small torch her mom had left on the side.

"Put down the torch, Clarke." Raven ordered gently, her hand pushing Clarke's away from her face. "God, you and your mom are far too alike."

"We're just worried about you." The other woman's eyes stared over her shoulder and Clarke could tell her attention wasn't on her any more. "Raven?"

"Sorry, can I leave?" She asked abruptly.

"Raven, you understand that chronic pain can't just disappear? That the damage is still there."

"Listen, Clarke, I haven't felt this good since I was on the Ark. Like, back when it was just me and- and..." Raven stuttered off.

"Finn?" She provided.

Raven's expression darkened.

"Yeah, Finn... I can't believe I forgot his name." The other woman whispered brokenly. Tears were suddenly gathering in the corners of Raven's eyes as a swell of emotion rose in her voice. The complete turn around had Clarke's brow creasing in concern. Not a moment ago, Raven had been beaming, the smile on her face bigger than Clarke had ever seen before. And now... Now it was almost as if the pain of remembering Finn was about to break her in two.

"Why did I forget?" Raven asked desperately, her eyes darting from side to side.

Raven had forgotten Finn, Jaha had forgotten Wells. Twice. The people they had lost erased from their memories. The pain of remembering them suppressed.

Clarke's eyes widened at the realisation of what the chip was doing.

The chip wasn't just suppressing physical pain. It was suppressing emotional pain too.

"Because the chip takes away your pain." Clarke realised aloud, her eyes still blinking at the revelation as she tried to make sense of it.

"Can I go?" Raven asked, jolting Clarke's attention back to her. When Clarke looked up, she was surprised to see a smile across her face again, all traces of the emotion remembering Finn had caused gone.

She had to check, she had to be sure. "Raven, I slept with Lexa."

"Okay." Raven continued to smile, her head cocking slightly as she studied Clarke. "Can I go now?"

She could feel her brow furrowing again. "You're okay with that?"

The smile that had been stuck across Raven's face faded.

"No. I think you've made a terrible mistake," the woman muttered darkly, her whole face hardening for the briefest of moments before the same haunting smile crept back onto her face. "Can I go? I have things I need to do."

Something wasn't right and Clarke's mind slipped into overdrive because the sensible part of her mind told her that no, Raven shouldn't be allowed to go. On the other hand it was Raven, her friend who had spent the past few months in insurmountable pain.

"Sure," Clarke finally relented. "Go ahead."

"Awesome." Shuffling her legs of the bed, Clarke couldn't help the swell of happiness in her chest when Raven put her weight on both legs without wincing.

"Hey, Abby." Raven smiled as she limped out the medical bay. "Hey Grounder lady that we accidentally shot."

"Raven." Her mom greeted, waiting silently for a few moments until the squeak of Raven's brace became a distant nose. "And?"

"It's more than just physical. It's suppressing... All pain."

"Should we try taking it out?" Her mom asked.

"No. Not yet." Clarke replied. If the chip was already controlling that much, Clarke had no idea what would happen if they tried to pull the things out. She knew her mom would be having the exact same worries. "Not until we know it's safe to remove."

"And until we do?" Her mom asked, concern lacing her tone.

"We get someone to keep an eye on her."

Bellamy wasn't that hard to find. Despite his best efforts to avoid her since she had arrived. It hadn't surprised Clarke when her mom had told her he had been among the group that had gone into the Ice Nation. She knew it had little to do with Pike and everything to do with Bellamy's need to protect his people.

Sweat covered his bare torso as he moved a log onto the stump in front of him. Anya had volunteered to give her the space to talk to him, but she could still feel the woman's gaze on her back as she walked towards him.

"You've been avoiding me." Clarke said from behind him, leaning against the side of the Ark as he froze.

"Clarke." Bellamy greeted simply as he picked up the axe that had been wedged into the ground beside him.

"It's Chancellor now."

Bellamy nodded, his eyes not leaving the log in front of him. With a grunt, he brought the axe down to cleave it in two. "I voted for you."

"You went to the Ice Nation." Clarke accused, repeating the information her mom had told her.

"I didn't trust Lexa was telling the truth." Picking up another log he dropped it onto the stump. "I was right." He said before swinging the the axe again.

"I'm suspending you from the guard." Clarke announced, watching the muscles in Bellamy's back tensed.

Turning his head, Bellamy looked at her through the overhanging strands of his fringe. "What?"

Clarke tucked her hands behind her, her back straightening. "You disobeyed a direct order by going into the Azgeda territory. Now you have to face the consequences."

"For disobeying a direct order? That's rich coming from you, Clarke." He replied mockingly, his head shaking as he picked up another log from the pile.

"This isn't up for debate, Bellamy."

With another grunt, he turned to face her, the axe still dangling in his hand. "Then what the hell am I meant to do?"

"I leave again tomorrow."

"And I'm not going?" He guessed.

"No. You're not. I need you here."

Sighing he swung his arm to wedge the axe back into the ground. "Tell me what you need me to do."


Monty smiled at her nervously. "Hey Clarke, or you know, Chancellor Clarke," furrowing his brow Monty tilted his head. "Chancellor Griffin?"

Despite herself, Clarke couldn't help rolling her eyes as she slid down the side of the greenhouse to sit beside him. "Clarke will do."

"Is that Grounder going to be okay?" Monty eventually asked, his hands picking at a piece of grass nervously.

"The one you hit?" Monty nodded, his eyes avoiding hers. "Yeah, she'll be fine."

"Good, that's- That's good." He hesitated for a moment, his fingers snapping the grass more aggressively. "My mom wanted to kill her." Clarke could see him visibly swallow. "She asked me to help kill you."

"Is that why you were out there with her?" Clarke asked him.

"No, I..." He paused, and Clarke gave him a moment to collect himself. "I wanted to talk to her about my dad."

If there was one thing Clarke understood, it was the scars a dead parent could inflict. "Hey, you don't have to tell me."

"No, no I want to- I just..." Once again he paused, his hands ripping another clump of grass. "He was part of a distraction. She said he wasn't strong enough to do what was necessary, so she... She told him there was an escape route away from the wreckage, that they were going to sneak out of in groups."


"She didn't lie, there was an escape route. It's just the directions they gave the first group led straight to a Grounder camp." Monty didn't need to fill in the gaps. Hannah had sent her husband in the first group. The group that would distract the Azgeda whilst the others escaped. "She's the reason he's dead, Clarke."

Without hesitation Clarke pulled him into her side, her lips pressing against the top of his head as his body started to shake.

"I'm so sorry Monty." She whispered. Already, Clarke could feel his warm tears soaking through the fabric of her shoulder as she held onto him. "I'm so sorry."

"Everything just sucks. My mom killed my dad, my best friend won't even look at me any more, and I- Oh God I killed so many people-" A sob caught in his throat and Clarke pulled him closer as he continued to cry

"How did you do it? How did you forgive your mom for getting your dad floated?" He asked desperately, and Clarke barely suppressed her shiver at the memory of her dads face as his body careered out of the Ark. "I'll be able to forgive her right? One day? Just like you did?"

"Maybe." Clarke whispered, unwilling to pull away the hope he had. "Maybe your mom isn't the person she used to be."

Sniffling loudly, Monty gently pulled himself away from her with a sad smile on his face. "Is that your way of saying no?"

"It's my way of saying maybe we're different from the people we once were, maybe some of us can never be the same again."

"Maybe Jasper thinks the same thing about me." He frowned.

"Jasper just needs time Monty. Maybe that's what you and your mom need too." Taking a breath, Clarke looked out at the darkening camp in front of them. "I want to you to come with me when I leave."

"To keep an eye on my mom?" He asked with a sniffle and Clarke nodded. "Will Jasper be going to?"

"He's a liability. I can't risk him getting someone killed." She explained softly.

It seemed like fate that Jasper chose then to stumble out from one of the cabins, his hair and clothes dishevelled from what Clarke assumed was another day drinking. He was a far cry from the boy that had landed on the drop ship and Clarke wondered if it was too late for him. If the demons her killing Maya had awakened would eventually kill him.

"Yeah." Monty suddenly replied, his eyes fixed on his former best friend. "Yeah, I'll come."

"She can't be trusted." Anya repeated to her as she pulled off her boots.

"I know." Clarke huffed, dropping her head into her hands. "She thinks I'm going to kill them all."

"That is your legend as Wanheda. My army, the Maunon... All of them dead, except the one you leave alive to tell the tale." The other woman replied distractedly as she checked the soles of her shoes. "My people fear you."

Clarke still wasn't sure. Letting out another huff, she laid back on her bed. Arrangements had already been made to bring Echo with them, but she couldn't help wondering if it was a mistake.

"Maybe being faced with the legendary Wanheda was enough to spook her." Anya offered before unabashedly stripped off her shirt.

Scanning the bare skin whilst the other woman was distracted, Clarke was glad to see the deep purpling bruise that had been there just a few days ago was already shrinking in size.

"I wish it didn't." She replied once Anya had covered herself with a fresh shirt.

"Fear is a powerful weapon, Clarke. You should use it."

Biting at her lip, Clarke asked the question that had been irking her all day. "Do you think I should bring her with us?"

Scoffing Anya turned off the light and Clarke listened to rustling of her climbing into her bed. "You've already made up your mind. This conversation is pointless. Go to sleep."

Anya was right, and Clarke pulled her own blanket over her body. "Then she comes with us."

Despite the early hour Arkadia was already bustling with life when Clarke walked outside. Anya was close behind her, her joints clicking loudly as she stretched her body.

"It's a good day to travel." The woman noted before grunting when another joint popped. "Summer will be here soon."

"What's it like?"

"Summer?" Anya squinted slightly at the sun peaking out from behind the wreck of the Ark. "Hot."

Clarke rolled her eyes as she stretched her own limbs slightly. "They should be ready to leave soon."

"Is that her?" Anya asked, nodding towards the trunk four of the guards were loading into the back of the truck.

"We don't know who's watching us. I needed to keep her hidden."

Anya smirked. "I wasn't questioning your methods."

Octavia, Lincoln, Anya, Echo and herself would all be travelling in the back of the truck whilst Monty and Hannah shared the front. The rest of the guards would be following on foot until they reached Indra's army. After that, the best of Indra's warriors would be riding along side them, while the others would wait to escort the rest of her people to Lexa's camp.

As the trunk was pushed onto the truck, Clarke watched Octavia and Lincoln approaching the vehicle.

"She's going to be a problem." Anya stated as they started walking towards the couple.


"I've been watching her," And really Clarke shouldn't have been at all surprised. "She doesn't respect you."

"Yeah, she's angry with me. Apparently I ruined the honeymoon with her boyfriend."

Anya grunted. "Lincoln is a good warrior. He is strong, and despite his actions, he is loyal. I would not say the same for your friend."

"Is that a hint for me to talk to her?"

"I can tell you outright if you wish."

"Octavia." Clarke interrupted.

Both Lincoln and Octavia froze, their animated arguing halting instantly.

"Clarke." The girl huffed as she crossed her arms over her chest. "Anya."

"Lincoln we need to talk." Anya announced. Clarke was more than grateful for the Grounder giving her the time alone with Octavia that she needed.

"Sure." He didn't look happy, his jaw clenching as he glared at Octavia before pushing off the truck and leaving them.

"What's the problem?" Clarke asked. She wasn't surprised to receive a glare to her question.

"I think you know who my problem is." Octavia spat before she roughly threw her bag into the truck.

It reminded Clarke of the times when she was younger and would throw her own bag onto her bed on the Ark after a bad day of classes. The important part being when she was younger. "You're being childish." Clarke accused.

Octavia scoffed. "Yeah, well me and Lincoln could have had a life together. A happy life with the Trikru and it was you ruined that for me. So sorry if I don't want to spend my time talking to you."

"Are you done?"

"I haven't even started." Octavia glowered. "You should have stayed gone, Clarke. Things were just starting to get back to normal, then you had to show up again and start a damn war. Why couldn't you just let Lexa kill you so this could be over already?"

"I didn't start this war and you know it." Clarke seethed.

"Actually I don't. No one does because everything is a secret with you. I'm sick of things happening behind closed doors, of people like you making decisions and hiding things from the people who deserve to know." Octavia panted, all her anger flowing out of her.

Hiding things from the people who deserve to know.

Clarke felt her own jaw tense. She could tell by the way Octavia stepped back that the rage that was suddenly burning in her belly was clear on her face. "You told Indra about Pike."

"Yeah, so what." Octavia replied defiantly.

"So what? Octavia you can't just-" Taking in a heavy breath, Clarke tried to calm herself down. "The Trikru ambassador tried to use that information against us. You can train with Indra and the Trikru-"

The spark of anger seemed to reignite in Octavia and she stepped forwards again. "I don't need your permission to train with them."

"I'm the Chancellor now, Octavia, my permission is exactly what you need!" Clarke raged. The blonde could feel the eyes of people watching them argue on her back, and she tried to reign her anger back in. "You can't just tell Indra everything that happens in Arkadia, it weakens our position in the coalition."

"And? I don't care."

Clarke had to consciously keep her voice down despite the anger that was creeping up her spine again. "I'm sure your brother and boyfriend do."

"This has nothing to do with Bellamy and Lincoln."

Sighing, Clarke decided to try a different tactic. "Look, I get it. What they did to you on the Ark was wrong, and you don't want to be a part of our people any more."

"Oh great, saint Clarke understands me." Octavia replied mockingly, but Clarke chose to ignore her.

"But we are your people Octavia. You can't straddle the line. Either you're with us, or I cut you loose."

"What?" All the anger seemed to drain from the girls face as she paled. "You can't just kick me out of Arkadia-"

"You want to be treated like an adult, like everyone else? Then step up." Clarke ordered, backing Octavia up until her back hit the truck behind her. "Start thinking before you act or you'll find yourself outside these walls."

Octavia didn't reply, her jaw setting in defiance as she glared at her.

"Do we have an understanding?" Clarke asked darkly before she stepped even closer. Brown eyes blazed into her own and for a moment, Clarke worried that the younger Blake was about to lash out at her.

"Yes." Octavia finally gritted out.

"Clarke." Bellamy's deep voice drew Clarke back. With a final glare at Octavia, the blonde turned back to face the man.

"Everything okay here?" He asked, looking more at his sister than her.

"Everything's fine Bell." Octavia muttered before pushing past them both, her shoulder colliding painfully with Clarke's.

"You were arguing." He stated simply once Octavia had marched away from them.

"Arguing is what your sister does... How's Raven?" The blonde hadn't seen the woman since the day before, and she quickly scoured the crowd for her face.

"She's not coming." Bellamy announced and Clarke frowned at the news. "She's started building something, says it's to help with the signal."

Clarke tilted her head in confusion. The radio had been fine whilst she was in Polis and they didn't need to communicate any further. "I thought with the repeater stations the radio signal was okay?"

"Apparently not." Bellamy frowned and Clarke could tell the same question was plaguing him too. "I'll keep an eye on her. I promise."

"Clarke." Her mom gently tapped at her lower back. "They're almost ready to go."

"I'll be over in a minute." She smiled, waiting until her mom had walked away again before turning back to Bellamy. "Take care of yourself, Bellamy."

"You too." He said gruffly, his hand scratching at the back of his hair. After a moment of awkward hesitation between them, Bellamy stepped forwards and wrapped his strong arms around her. "May we meet again, Chancellor."

"May we meet again." Clarke whispered back.

The journey to Lexa's camp had been uneventful, and Clarke stretched her aching legs as best she could when the truck finally ground to a stop.

"Lincoln, stay here with Echo until we know what Lexa wants to do with her."

The stoic man nodded as he settled back into his seat, his sword resting across his lap again as he stared at their prisoner. It had been an hour into their journey when Clarke had surprised everyone by opening the trunk to reveal a bound Echo. Whilst her gag had been removed, the blonde had made Lincoln retie her restraints every half hour to make sure she remained under control.

Looking at her nervously, Octavia pushed open the door. "Pike wasn't happy that we were taking the truck."

"Pike isn't the Chancellor." Clarke replied, following after the girl and into the early afternoon sun. "I need to update the Commander, I'll come join you soon."

"This way." Anya muttered beside her as she directed her towards the line of tents in front of them.

It didn't take them long to find it. In truth, Clarke wouldn't have needed Anya's help identifying which one was the Commander's. She would recognise it anywhere.

"I'll be with Lincoln when you need me." Anya whispered, but Clarke was barely paying attention as she stared at the familiar angels and colours of the Commander's tent.

"Wanheda." The guard greeted as she approached. Clarke didn't trust herself to speak, merely nodding when he pushed aside the flaps of the tent for her.

Clarke wholly unprepared for the sight of Lexa.

It felt so much longer than three days. It felt like so much more than barely 84 hours apart. Clarke had survived so much longer without her. She had survived three months alone in the woods slowly losing her mind. She had survived almost 18 years without Lexa being in her life, yet seeing her again in that tent made Clarke wonder how she had ever managed it.

Black war paint covered Lexa's eyes, the familiar pattern stretching down past her cheekbones, staining her skin. Her bright red sash spilled across her shoulder, the colour contrasting with the blacks and greys of the light armour she wore. Her back was straight, her jaw twitching from side to side and her expression hard as the Grounder next to her traced his hand down the map on the table in front of them.

In that moment Lexa was the Commander. Clarke's hands itched with the need to draw her, to touch her and commit everything she could to memory.

"Heda." Clarke called out, her voice husking deeper than she had intended.

Green eyes snapped up from the map and even though it was quickly masked, Clarke saw the awe and joy fluttering across Lexa's features.

Even with the distance between them Clarke could see the brunette's throat bobbing as she swallowed harshly. "Wanheda, welcome."

Diverting her attention back to the map, the Commander quickly pointed at something before looking up at the warrior who had been standing beside her. "Have the scouts search here, her spies will be in the forest somewhere, we just have to find them."

"Yes, Heda." The man replied, his voice muffled by the guard over his face. Clarke watched him silently, wishing him to move faster when he slowly rolled the map back up before dismissing himself from his Heda's presence.

"Is everything okay?" Clarke asked and Lexa nodded.

Clarke didn't hesitate to close the gap between them and Lexa was there to meet her half way.

Their lips met a second later. The feeling of Lexa pressing again her had Clarke sighing in relief. It was just as soft as that very first kiss they shared, and the fact it was happening right there, in Lexa's tent again, wasn't lost on her. This time when Lexa pulled back to brush her nose against hers, Clarke didn't pull away. She didn't move away and whisper that she wasn't ready. Instead she tilted her chin forwards again so she could capture Lexa's lips with her own.

Without meaning to, Clarke licked across the swell of Lexa's lip and before she could even think to stop herself, she was brushing along the brunette's lips again. It was all the permission Lexa was looking for. The blonde found herself groaning when Lexa deepened their kiss, her mouth prying open her own as their tongues finally met again.

It was Lexa that pulled away first.

"I-" Lexa paused, her breath shuddering across Clarke's face. "I-"

Pushing forwards, Clarke connected their lips again. Slowly, she directed Lexa backwards, both of them grunting when the small of the brunette's back collided with the table.

"I know." Clarke whispered, pulling back for a moment and smiling as Lexa's nose brushed across hers again. "I know."

Lexa breathed against her, her fingers played with the waistband of Clarke's pants. "Is this okay?" She asked, the tinge of vulnerability in the normally strong woman's voice bringing Clarke's knees close to buckling.

Moving her hand to cover Lexa's own, Clarke pushed it past the cloth barrier. "Yes."

The laces of Lexa's trousers were quickly forced open and Clarke gasped as she felt the other woman's hand dipping below her underwear. The second Clarke had seen Lexa standing in front of her, with war paint spilling down her face and her shoulders set high in command, the wetness had started to gather between her thighs. Lexa moaned when her fingers discovered it.

The dampness only increased when the brunette's fingers swiped across the heated, swollen flesh and Clarke moaned as her deft finger easily found her clit. "Lex- Ah God."

She wasn't surprised to find the same slickness between Lexa's legs. Clarke moaned at the feel of it coating her fingers. Another moan rumbled from Clarke chest when she finally shifted her hand to where Lexa needed it most.

Lexa's hot breath was spilling over the skin of her face as they panted together and Clarke could feel her brow creasing. It wasn't going to take much more and if her hands weren't so occupied in the tight confines of Lexa's pants and buried in her mane of brown curls, she might have tried to control the bucking of the other woman's hips.

"Clarke." Lexa groaned before she upped the pace.

Clarke's hips started faltering when the brunette pressed even harder. Sloppy kisses started making up the side of her neck and Lexa's teeth gently nipped at the sensitive skin as the their pace only increased.

Pulling back Lexa's head, Clarke looked into the woman's heavy lidded eyes as they both hurtled towards their release. She wasn't sure how Lexa managed it, but with a flick of her wrist her fingers were suddenly buried inside of the blonde. Clarke couldn't help her head falling forwards at the sudden release of her orgasm rushing through her.

Lexa couldn't have been far behind her, and Clarke let out a yelp of surprise when the other woman's teeth closed around her shoulder.

"I'm sorry," Lexa whimpered, her breath coming in starts as she continued pulsing against Clarke's fingers. "I'm sorry."

"It's okay..." Clarke whispered, her head lulling back at the dazzling pleasure still humming through her.

This time her knees really were going to give in and as the pulses of her own orgasm died away, Clarke pushed her body against Lexa. It was prompting the other woman needed, and moments later Clarke found herself stumbling back towards the bed she knew was hidden in the corner.

Tilting their bodies just right, Clarke managed fall on top of Lexa's when they both collapsed on the furs together.

"I didn't mean to hurt you." Lexa mumbled, her chest still heaving underneath her.

"You didn't." Clarke sighed, her nose nuzzling into the side of Lexa's neck. "It's good to see you too."

Closing her eyes, Clarke rolled off the woman beneath her and listened to the sounds of the Grounders camp around them. She couldn't help smiling at the thought of how unaware all the Commander's warriors were of what had just happened in their Heda's tent.

"God, I feel like a teenager." Clarke panted out as she finally opened her eyes again.

Lexa's head shifted beside her and Clarke turned her own to look at her. "You are a teenager, Clarke."

It started as just a puff of laughter, but before the blonde knew it her stomach was cramping as laugh after laugh tore from her throat. It was ridiculous really. They were in the middle of the coalitions war camp, hiding out in her tent having sex, when they should have most definitely been planning a war. She was acting like a teenager and the thought only made her laugh harder.

As the last spasms began to die down, she smiled at the completely enamoured expression on Lexa's face. "What is it?" Clarke asked.

"Nothing." Lexa replied, but Clarke continued to stare at her until the woman relented. "I like it when you laugh. You look younger." She said before reaching up to trace her fingers down the her forehead where Clarke knew her brow would so often furrow.

"I wish we could stay like this." Clarke sighed, rolling onto her side so she could trace the smudged lines of the Commander's war paint.

Leaning her body closer, the brunette softly kissed her again, her lips lingering for only a few moments before she pulled back to rest her forehead against her own. "Soon."

"Your war paint is smeared."

A smile tugged at Lexa's lips. "And you're wearing war paint that you were not before."

Lexa pushed herself off the bed first making Clarke smile when she winced before subtly readjusted her pants. "Come," Lexa said, offering her hand to Clarke. "Let me help clean you."

Clarke couldn't help the way her face flushed at the woman's suggestion. "I might have to... Change..."

"Yes." Lexa nodded, her own thighs shifting again, and Clarke couldn't help smiling at the knowledge the other woman was suffering the same fate she was. "I had some of your clothes brought from Polis."

Walking out into the main section of the tent again, Lexa quickly returned with the jug of water that had been sitting on the table and poured it into the flat bowl that was beside her bed.

"Lift your head." Lexa ordered gently, her free hand cupping Clarke's chin to move her head into position. "I like my war paint on you."

Closing her eyes, Clarke smiled at the woman's confession. "I didn't think you were the possessive type."

Instantly, Lexa's hands dropped from her skin, and Clarke opened her eyes to find the brunette's face awash with panic. "I- I would never claim to own you, Clarke- If that's-"

"Hey, hey." Smiling, Clarke pulled Lexa's hands back up to her skin again. "I was joking, Lexa."

Nodding the other woman began wiping at the stains again. "I still mean it, Clarke. If this, if what we have is something you do not wish to have any more, I would never force it. I would let you go." There was a light sheen to Lexa's green eyes, and Clarke could see her swallowing the lump in her throat. "I swear it."

Taking the cloth from her hand, Clarke dipped it in the water before gently wiping at the smeared lines of Lexa's own war paint. "I don't want you to let me go."

"I had this made for you." Lexa said from behind her as Clarke finished fastened the pants she had given her.

"What?" Clarke asked, turning to face her. Immediately, the blonde found her mouth dropping open at the item in the other woman's hands. The shoulder guard was almost identical to the one Clarke had been given during their campaign against Mount Weather, She shivered at it's familiarity. "Lexa..."

"I understand if you don't want to wear it." The brunette said softly.

"No." Clarke quickly blurted out. "No, I do."

Nodding, Lexa approached her cautiously. "Let me put it on for you."

From behind her, long fingers wound the strap around her body and Clarke shivered as Lexa placed a kiss against her neck. With one final click the guard was slotted into place and Clarke relaxed when Lexa's strong arms wrapped around her waist.

Clarke let her body relax back into the warmth of the other woman's embrace, her hands coming up to rest of top of Lexa's. "You can call me Chancellor. When we're not alone."

"Because you do not like Wanheda?" Lexa ventured slowly and Clarke nodded.

"You should keep it. The name Wanheda affords you power that Chancellor does not." Lexa explained, her lips pressing another kiss to shell of her ear before leaving a trail of them down the side of the blonde's neck. "But I can stop if you wish me to." Lexa whispered quietly, her hands intertwining with Clarke's.

Clarke watched Lexa's fingers brushing between her own. Both of their knuckles were a tangle of raised white skin. There were other scars over Lexa's hands, little nicks of skin from the tips of swords and years of training. Shifting her thumb, Clarke ran it over her own palms to feel the callouses that had only recently formed. Two sets of hands that had killed uncountable times.

Wanheda and Heda.

Letting out a sigh, the blonde squeezed at Lexa's hand. "No. No you're right."

"Soon." Lexa hummed from behind her, before letting her arms drop away. "When we have peace, and Nia is defeated."

Instantly, Clarke missed the tranquillity of Lexa embrace, but she knew they had already spent too long ignoring the reason she had travelled to the camp.

"What did you find out from the Yujleda?" Clarke started.

"They've been giving Nia everything," Lexa answered and Clarke wasn't surprised by the revelation. "Where our supplies are coming from, where our army is positioned, where you were going."

"Are they still in Polis?"

"Yes." Lexa nodded as she started to brush her fingers across the maps she had rolled up on the table. "The radio has been destroyed. We couldn't risk them giving us away."

"You could have fed Nia the information you wanted her to hear." It was too late, but Clarke suggested it anyway.

"No. If it was me there would have been safeguards, a code word to tell me my spy had been captured." Lexa replied. "We can only assume Nia would have done the same."

Sighing, Clarke nodded solemnly. It might not be true, but just like everything it was a risk she knew the Commander couldn't take. "Did they say why they did it?"

"They believed me weak, that I was favouring the Skaikru above the clans of the coalition, but it was the death of Uzac that pushed them deeper into her council." Smiling, Lexa rolled out one of her maps. "For what it's worth the vote passed."

Clarke frowned. "Right before we go to war."

Swallowing nervously, the blonde approached the table to help Lexa weigh down the parchment as it curled at the edges. "I brought the Azgeda prisoner with me."

Lexa's green eyes snapped up to look at her, and Clarke didn't miss the may her jaw tensed with anger. "That was a risk we can't afford, Clarke."

"I know." She readily agreed, but she also knew not listening to Echo was a bigger risk.

"Then why?"

"I think she has information we can use. People we can use."

Lexa's jaw tensed tightly again. "Where is she now?"

"Still in the truck, we put her in a trunk to get her in there, nobody would have seen her leave the Ark." Clarke explained. She watched as Lexa's shoulders seemed to relax at the revelation.

"I'll have her moved after dark, tell your people to keep her in the truck until then."

Clarke knew it was ridiculous, but it felt like her throat was threatening to close up at the dismissal. "Do you want to see Anya?"

Lexa nodded, her teeth worrying her lip for a moment. "Yes, come back afterwards, Magnus wants to change the position of our army, I want your opinion."

"I agree with him, this is the easiest route for her to take." Anya said as she pointed down to the map in front of them.

By the time Clarke had made it back to the Commander's tent, Lexa and Anya had already started to pour over the collection of maps that Lexa had weighed down on her table. As soon as the Yujleda's betrayal had been discovered, Magnus and Lexa had apparently worked through the night to find a new solution to their battle with Nia.

Clarke furrowed her brow at the terrain. "It seems like the obvious route to take..."

Pacing in front of the table, Lexa hummed from deep in her chest. "What way would you take an army?"

"I would split them into two. Take them down here," Clarke explained, her finger pointing to a gap in the hills. She waited for Lexa to glance down at the map before continuing. "And the other here."

"With your army in two, you're at half your strength." Anya pointed out before sighing heavily. "But she knows we were planning to hide our army here, if she does split her army we'll be surrounded before the battle can even begin."

"So we're in agreement?" Lexa asked. "Do as Magnus suggested. Draw our army back further than planned, and further back than the Yujleda would have told Nia-"

The entrance to the tent was suddenly bursting open and Clarke found herself pulled behind Anya's back as a Grounder rushed inside. It was only when she managed to get her footing again that Clarke realised both Lexa and Anya had already drawn there swords, the sharp blades pointing straight at the warrior that had just interrupted them.

"I asked not to be disturbed!" The Commander shouted, her weapon remaining loose in her hand as her eyes blazed at the warrior.

"I'm sorry Heda." The warrior said before he dropped to his knee in front of her. "But a spy has been located."

Immediately, the Commander's demeanour changed, and her hands quickly sheathed her weapon again. "In the correct position?"

"Yes Heda." He confirmed.

"Then we move now." She snarled before switching straight back into Trigedasleng. "Have the flag raised."

Nodding his head, the warrior quickly scrambled to his feet. "Yes Commander." He replied, his head bowing one final time before he rushed back out into the camp again.

"Anya-" Lexa began, but the other woman was already striding towards the exit.

"I'll wait for my mark." She confirmed as she pushed past the still swinging material of the tent.

"The flag?" Clarke asked once Anya had left them.

"The Broad Leaf have joined forces with Nia, so it's time to sow some doubt into her mind about their loyalty." Lexa smiled with her hands tucked behind her back. "Follow me."

The brunette didn't move far and Clarke paused as the woman stopped in the entrance, her hands gently prying apart the material until a small stream of light came through. Apparently satisfied with the gap, Lexa beckoned Clarke closer until she could reach out and shuffle the blonde's body in front of hers.

"Over there." Lexa whispered into Clarke's ear, her arm pointing at the tents through the small opening.

The warrior that had just been talking to Lexa was weaving his way through the camp and Clarke watched as he dropped something in front of one of tents. It was barely a second later that three men came crawling out, one of them laughing boisterously as he pushed one of the others.

"The noise will draw attention to him." Lexa explained softly. Clarke couldn't help moving their bodies tighter together.

One of the men stumbled, swigging from the bottle dangling from his hand.

"That's not alcohol is it?" Clarke asked with a smile on her face because she already knew what Lexa's answer would be.

"I would never allow such a thing." Lexa breathed and Clarke felt herself shiver at the feeling.

The blonde watched curiously as the three of them stumbled further away, their loud voice drawing the attention of everyone around them. It wasn't until they stopped at the thinning edges of the camp that Clarke started to realise exactly what it was Lexa had planned.

Thin poles lined the perimeter, each one flying a different flag of the coalition. The Trikru, the Sankru, even the flag of her own people flew among them, but there were two that were missing.

None of the poles flew the flag of Azgeda, but more importantly none of the poles flew the flag of the Yujleda either.

"They refuse to fly our flag!" One of the men shouted and a loud jeer echoed from the others beside him.

She couldn't hear what else was being said, but the man that had been most vocal began searching through one of the small tents. It was as the others started helping him pull something out that another Grounder tried to interrupt them. It wasn't surprising to her when he failed to stop them, and Clarke wasn't sure if it was for show or not when he was pushed to the ground, but either way he quickly gathered himself to run back deeper into the camp.

The Yujleda's flag rose into view moments later and Clarke watched in awe as it began fluttering in the breeze. It was ingenious really. With a single scrap of fabric Lexa had just given Nia a reason to doubt the Yujleda. She had just planted a seed of distrust that Clarke knew the Commander was hoping would destroy their alliance.

"And the seed has been sown." Clarke muttered.

"Not quite." The blonde could hear the smile in Lexa's voice and it didn't take long for her to find out why it was there.

The Grounder that had tried to stop them from pulling the flag out the tent was running across the camp again. Right on his heels was Anya.

"She's been waiting for this hasn't she?" Clarke asked a smile creeping across her own face.

"Anya has always enjoyed hitting things." Lexa replied lightly as Anya's fist collided with the side of one of the men's jaws whilst her foot quickly made contact with the pole to send it crashing to the floor.

"And now the seed has been sown." The woman behind her whispered straight into her ear again.

In the distance Clarke continued to watch Anya kick the last man standing in the knee, his cry echoing as he fell to the floor. "The Broad Leaf aren't really here, are they?"

"No. They've fully aligned themselves with Nia," Lexa explained quietly. "And now they're going to feel the wrath of her distrust."


Chapter Text

“Nice shoulder guard.” Octavia noted as Clarke walked into the small opening outside the tents Lexa had provided for her people.

“It was a gift.”

Octavia grunted as she ran the edge of her dagger under her nails. “Anya said you're staying with her tonight.”

“Which one's mine?” She asked. Octavia pointed towards the biggest of the tents.

The blonde was about to excuse herself and duck inside when Octavia stepped in her way. “Can we talk?”

Clarke sighed, her body sagging at the thought of another verbal spar with the girl. “I'm tired, Octavia.”

“Yeah, no it won't take long.” She quickly clarified and Clarke stared at her for a moment before relenting.

They didn't walk far. Clarke could still see the burning fire her people were huddled around.

“I didn't- When- Look-” Octavia stuttered. “When I said I wished you'd stayed gone, I didn't mean it okay?”

“Okay.” Clarke replied.

It wasn't an apology, and truthfully, Clarke would never expect to receive one from her.

“I know if you hadn't then Pike would have become Chancellor and,” ducking her head Octavia looked away for a moment before wiping at her nose, “yeah, I'm pretty sure he would've killed Indra's army and not even you could've stopped Lexa wiping us out after that.”

Clarke shivered at the thought of it. Maybe she could have talked Lexa down to only demanding the heads of those who had committed the crime, but if her people had voted for it... The Trikru would never forgive their Heda for leaving the slaughter unavenged, not even the Grounder's collective fear of Wanheda would stop them seeking revenge on her people.

“We would have deserved it.” Clarke admitted. “Killing three hundred warriors that were sent to protect us? Letting us live would have gotten her killed.”

Octavia looked hesitant, her feet scuffing at the ground. “Do you trust her?” She finally asked.

“Yes.” Clarke answered simply. “She won't betray us again, Octavia.”

“Can you promise that?”

Everything in Clarke's heart told her that Lexa would never betray the people of the Ark again. That she would never betray her again. It wasn't her promise to keep though. All she could do was trust Lexa would forever mean those words of loyalty she had fallen to her knees to swear. That Lexa would forever honour them, even when the duty of being Commander called her not to.

“No,” Clarke replied tentatively. “But that's the point of trust.”

Octavia seemed to process her answer for a long moment, her jaw flexing with concentration. Eventually she nodded, and Clarke felt an unexpected relief at her acceptance.

“Did something happen?” Octavia asked abruptly. Clarke felt her brow crease with confusion. “You were in there a long time earlier.”

Clarke hoped the low light of dusk hid the subtle blush she knew was creeping up her neck. “We were talking about the Yujleda.”

“Is it bad?”

Clarke sighed, her shoulders dropping. “They told Nia everything we were planning.”


Through the lines of tents, the blonde could see Lincoln ambling into the clearing. His dark eyes scanned the people who were in front of him. Clarke couldn't help smiling when she saw his body visible relax when he finally spotted Octavia. Apparently content that he had found her, he took a seat next to one of the Ark's guards, smiling at them as they passed him a cup of whatever was brewing on the fire.

Since returning to Arkadia, the brief interaction was the calmest Clarke had seen the pair. Even in the back of the truck to the Grounder's camp, they had silently ignored each other. “Have you been arguing a lot?” The blonde asked.

“Yeah. I know he's trying. I should be happy that he's trying to become Skaikru, but I'm not.” Sniffing loudly Octavia wiped her hand under her nose again. “I want to leave Arkadia, join the Trikru properly, but I can't leave him behind.”

“Have you spoken to Indra?”

Octavia laughed humourlessly. “He betrayed his clan, Clarke, they'll never take him back now.”

Clarke knew she was right, no clan would accept Lincoln after betraying the Commander. She wanted to tell Octavia that she would go see the Commander and demand Lincoln be let back into the Trikru. That Octavia could leave Arkadia and all the memories of the Ark behind to start a new life with Lincoln by her side.

“Would you have followed Finn if Lexa banished him?” Octavia unexpectedly questioned, causing Clarke to blink in surprise at the sudden turn in conversation.

“I don't know.” She answered honestly. “Maybe. But it would have been a mistake if I did.”

“He wasn't made for war.” The younger girl noted.

“No, he wasn't.” Clarke agreed, remembering the hollow look in his eyes, the despair in his expression when he gave himself up to the Grounder's. She wondered how Finn would treat her now. If he would still see her as a friend or an enemy.

“You think you'll ever fall in love again?” Octavia asked, her voice unsure.

Clarke mulled the question over for a few moments, her teeth biting at her lip as she thought of Lexa.

“Yeah,” she replied hesitantly. “Maybe one day.”

“Heda. Wanheda.” The guard greeted, his head bowing before them as they approached the tent Echo was being kept in.

The morning had been an uneventful one. The border and Nia's troops had been quiet, with only the continued arrival of the nomads who roamed the northern most tips of the Ice Nation still arriving during the night.

At some point in the night Echo had been moved into a tent. The trunk she had been smuggled into the truck in that was still sitting open on the floor. Echo herself was tied to the centre post of the tent, her arms bound loosely at her side.

“Echo kom Azgeda.” Lexa greeted.

“Heda.” The bound woman replied respectfully, her head bowing down for a moment.

Is there a reason I should keep you alive, Echo kom Azgeda?” The Commander's tone remained almost bored as she pulled her dagger from her belt, running the sharp blade under her nails.

Clarke remained silent at the side of the tent, watching as Echo visibly swallowed. “I have information.”

I have plenty of information.” The other woman replied, her eyes only briefly flashing up to meet Echo's before she turned her back to her. “My spies can tell me every move your army makes.

Nia has the weapons of the Maunon.”

Instantly Clarke felt her stomach drop. The weapons of the Mountain Men could mean only one thing. When she looked up at Lexa, the woman's back was still to them, but Clarke could see a tension in the young leaders shoulder's that hadn't been there a moment before.

“Nia has guns?” The blonde asked as she stepped towards the bound Grounder.

“The Maunon, Emerson, he led us to them.” Echo explained, her eyes darting between her and Lexa. “A backup in case the Mountain fell.”

“How many?” The Commander asked. It was barely there, but Clarke was sure she heard a tremble in her voice.

“I don't know. The Queen, she kept their use a secret. If our people found out she was using their weapons...” Echo's jaw tensed before she spat on the floor. “Anything the Maunon touched is cursed.”

“If your people think they're cursed, will she use them?”

Echo didn't get the chance to answer Clarke, her mouth snapping shut as the Commander let out a growl of frustration and spun around to face them. With roar of anger Lexa threw her dagger across the tent, the blade embedding itself just inches above Echo's head.

“She knows she can't win,” the Commander seethed. “She'll use them.”

“Your people are weak.” Indra announced.

“The guns.” Clarke guessed as Indra walked beside her to the training ground. After their conversation with Echo, Lexa had ordered Indra to begin training her people in the art of Grounder warfare.

Indra nodded stiffly. “Skaikru rely on them too much.”

Normally Clarke would agree with her, but after the Ice Nation warrior's revelation, Clarke knew the guns her people could wield were more important than ever. “We need them if we're going to beat Nia.”

Indra scoffed. “We've never needed them before, Sky girl.”

“Nia never had guns before.” Clarke remarked.

“To use their weapons...” Indra trailed off, her head shaking. “She's a disgrace to the title of Az Kwin.”

“If she wins it won't matter how she did it.”

A hum of agreement sounded from the other woman as she held a branch for Clarke to duck under. “This wouldn't have happened if Heda had killed her when she had the chance.”

Clarke looked at the General in surprise, pausing on the spot. “You don't agree with blood must not have blood?” She asked.

Sighing, Indra stopped as well. “It is not the way of our people. That coward of a Natblida should not have been allowed back into the capitol to convince Heda otherwise.”

“You're not tired of all the fighting?”

“Fighting is how we survive.” Indra said firmly, before jerking her head towards the training ground Clarke could just see through the trees. “I'll assess your people today. They'll either form a unit or be dispersed amongst the others.”

Nodding, Clarke followed Indra into the space. The crowd of guards all had their guns slung over their shoulders. Clarke ignored the look Indra gave her when she saw them.

“Most of you have already met Indra.” Clarke announced to them as she gestured towards the woman. “She'll be taking you through the military drills she sees fit.”

Clarke barely stopped herself from rolling her eyes when Hannah tutted loudly. “We don't need a-”

“How many wars have you fought on the ground?” Indra interrupted before Hannah could even begin her argument. “How many armies have you led?”

“It was our people who beat Mountain Weather,” Hannah continued regardless, her hand gesturing to the guards around them. “These men and women know what they're doing.”

“It was Wanheda who defeated the Mountain.” Lincoln said before Indra could reply.

“A siege on a mountain is nothing compared to the battle you will face. Your enemy will have terrain to move on and use against you.”

Slowly Clarke backed away from the crowd. Indra would be able to handle any objections from the guards. With Lincoln there to help curb their behaviour as well, Clarke knew they would be fine.

“You really think they'll listen to her?” Octavia asked as Clarke sat beside her on a fallen log at the side of the training area.

As if on cue Hannah let out a grunt of pain as she landed on her back heavily. Clarke had missed exactly what had happened, but Indra was standing above her with Hannah's gun securely in her hand.

“Yeah.” She smiled as Indra threw Hannah's gun out of reach. “I think they will.”

Training the day before had gone well. At least, as well as Clarke could have expected, and truthfully she was just relieved no one had been shot or stabbed.

It was why she had happily left an increasingly irate Indra to continue their training unsupervised the next morning, and headed straight to the Commander's tent instead. It hadn't surprised her to find the other woman pouring over maps again.

“What if they approach from farther south?”

“This gorge here,” Lexa traced her finger down a line on the parchment. “As soon as the spring sun melts the snow it becomes unpassable.” Moving her hand farther down the map, Lexa pointed at the raised ridge of a hill. “Your people will be providing fire from here.”

“But the south...”

“Your people will be protected.” The young leader assured, trying to alleviate her worry.

Clarke worried her lip regardless. It took her a few moments to realise Lexa was staring at her and not the map.


Lexa lifted her hand and pressed two of her fingers to the furrow the blonde knew had formed in her brow. A hum of contentment left the brunettes throat as Clarke smiled, the Grounder's fingers still tracing the light crease mark Clarke knew her worrying had left behind.

“I can provide more warriors to support them if you wish?” Lexa softly offered.

“Can you spare them?”

“No, but perhaps you are right. If Nia does send warriors to the south...” Lexa let out a sigh of frustration. “She has always excelled in doing the unexpected-”

Heda!” A cry from outside the tent had both of them twisting towards the entrance. “Heda! Come quick!”

Clarke's eyes widened in panic. “Nia?”

Lexa rushed out the tent ahead of her, her long coat flowing out behind her as she ran into the still early morning light.

The Grounder who had been calling for her was still running towards them. “There are bodies at the border!” He bellowed.

Prepare my horse!” The Commander ordered to no one in particular, and instantly the Grounder's around them kicked into life. “Clarke, stay here, I'll send word-”

“No,” Clarke cut across her. “I'm going with you, get me a horse.”


“I'm going with you.” She responded defiantly.

Clarke wasn't sure what she expected to see when they crossed the brow of the hill, but the absolute horror in front of her had her swallowing back the bile that was suddenly rising in her throat.

Headless corpses lined the ground in front of them, the bloody stumps of their necks already swarming with flies. Each body had been carefully laid upon the ground, their arms crossed over their chests and a sword impaling their chests where their hands met.

There were three corpses separated from the others. Their bodies forced to sit upright by the flag poles that had been embedded through them. A bloodied and torn Yujleda flag flying from each one.

An eerie quiet spread across the whole field as all of the Commander's guards froze at the scene in front of them.

“The Yujleda...” Clarke whispered as her eyes flickered across the hundreds of bodies.

The Commander didn't reply as she threw her leg over the saddle of her horse.

Take down the flags!” She ordered as she marched towards the three skewered bodies.

Jumping from her own horse Clarke quickly strode to the body Lexa was beside.

“Who were they?” She asked, grimacing as Lexa started to pull on the wood.

“The other three members of the Broad Leafs jury.”

Reaching out, Clarke gripped onto the pole, her muscles straining as she helped the brunette remove the bloody token Nia had left for them.


“Not now.” With a final grunt the pole dislodged. Clarke winced as it slowly slipped from the man's body. Blood covered her hands as they shimmied the wooden shaft up and out his corpse until it was finally free.

Clarke swatted at the flies that were swarming around them again. The smell of decomposition was starting to rise from the corpses, the thick scent already making it difficult to breathe.

The morning sun was slowly heating the air around them. With no clouds in sight, Clarke knew it was only going to get hotter, more humid. It wasn't going take long for the smell to become completely overwhelming.

“We need to dispose of these bodies.” She noted.

Lexa nodded, her eyes looking down the line of the dead. “They'll be burnt tonight.”

Have the bodies stacked!” She shouted to her guards. “We burn them at night fall!

Clarke watched the Commander as she gave her orders to more guards, three of them quickly jumping back on their horses to head towards camp.

“Who found them?” Clarke asked the Grounder standing closest to her.

The warrior shifted uncomfortably, her eyes looking anywhere but Clarke. “It was Anya kom Trikru's patrol, Wanheda.”


Clarke remembered the story Anya had told her. She remembered the anger that had radiated off the General as Nia toyed her with it. Her parents had been found in exactly the same way.

“Lex- Heda!” Clarke called, quickly covering the distance between them so she could whisper quietly in her ear. “Anya found them.”

It was barely visible through the Commander's mask, but Clarke could see the way Lexa's face fell at the news. “Where is she?”

“I don't know.”

Clarke smelt like death, the heady stench clinging to her clothes and hair. The hours spent in the beating sun, moving the slowly putrefying flesh, had cemented the odour into her very being. It was so intense that Clarke wasn't sure she would ever be rid of it.

The horse in front of her shook its head, forcing Clarke to remove her fingers from the matted hair of its mane. She was waiting for Lexa, quietly pretending to not listen as she spoke in hushed tones to a guard at her side.

Clarke recognised the man, Neo, from Polis. He had been one of the few guards Lexa had trusted enough to stand watch outside her room.

And Anya? Have you found her?” Clarke heard Lexa whisper him.

Neo nodded, his voice low as he replied. “Yes, Heda, at the training ground west of the camp.”

Thank you.” Without waiting for him to reply, Lexa gathered the reins of her own horse. “Wanheda, with me.”

With practised ease, the Commander mounted her horse.

Wordlessly, Neo dropped to his knee, his hands cupping together for Clarke to use. Just like in Polis, he refused to make eye contact with her. Even as she thanked him, and threw her leg over the saddle, he kept his head ducked away from her.

Digging her heels into the side of her horse, Clarke quickly caught up with Lexa.

“The bodies weren't just a message to us.” Lexa sighed as Clarke's horse drew up alongside hers. “It was a message to her own warriors.”

“Death to all those that betray her.” Clarke guessed, and Lexa nodded her confirmation.

The ride back to camp was silent. Clarke knew Lexa was blaming herself. The sight of so many bodies would be weighing heavily on the older woman's mind for the hours and days to come. It was already weighing heavily on her own.

The Yujleda had paid a brutal price for their betrayal of the coalition.

“Hey.” She whispered as they dismounted again.

“The death of so many was not my intention.” Lexa said tiredly.

“I know.”

With a heavy sigh, Lexa set off into the woods. “It was my choice to raise their flags here. I knew there would be consequences, but to kill so many...” Lexa trailed off, her head shaking before ducking down.

“She's desperate. Reaching out to me, killing two hundred warriors as a message to her own people? That's not the actions of someone who thinks they can win this.”

“An animal is most dangerous when it is cornered.” Lexa stated.

“Hey,” Clarke squeezed at Lexa's hand, her finger gently tapping at the back of it as she pulled her to a stop. “An animal is most dangerous when it has something to protect. We're going to win this Lexa. We're going to protect your legacy.”

Aware of the guards who were no doubt around them, hidden out of sight amongst the trees, Clarke let go of Lexa's hand before they started their slow walk towards the training ground again.

The loud thunk of steel on wood that she had been hearing since entering the small patch of woodland slowly became louder. It was as the trees started thinning that she heard the grunts accompanying each strike.

Anya's body was covered in sweat as she struck at the wooden post in front of her. Every hit of her sword splintered more wood away, and Clarke winced at the blood she could see smeared around the woman's hand.

“You should talk to her.” Clarke suggested quietly.

Lexa looked hesitant, her hands gripping into fists. “I wouldn't know what to say.”

“Have you ever talked to her about what happened to her parents?” Clarke ventured. To her surprise, the brunette shook her head.

“No. After I refused to give her an army to avenge her parents, Anya left Polis.” With the briefest glance towards her, Lexa smiled softly. “It was you who brought her back to me.”

Smiling sadly, Clarke watched Anya as she stopped her assault upon the wood. If she had left Polis so soon after her parents death... It made Clarke wonder exactly how long the woman she now counted as a friend had been repressing the emotions she was currently channelling through her sword.

Twirling the weapon in her bloodied hand, Anya started her assault again. “She never really dealt with it, did she?”

“Anya doesn't like to speak of the past.”

Taking a deep breath, Clarke stepped out into the opening.


“I'm fine.” The General grunted as her sword chipped away another chunk of wood.

It was a normal reaction from the Grounder, so slowly Clarke continued her advance towards her. “It's okay to not be.”

“The past is in the past, Sky girl!” She gritted out as her sword became wedged in the wood.

“That doesn't mean it can't hurt you.” Angry brown eyes glared at her. Clarke stepped back as Anya aggressively pulled the sword free from the post, the wood splitting in two by the force of it.

Tutting loudly at the now useless training post, the other woman sheathed her sword. “I didn't come here to talk.

As Anya made to march straight past her, Clarke quickly stepped in her way. “Move.” The Grounder ordered.

“Make me.” Clarke challenged, her palms sweating as Anya's angry eyes burned into her.

It was just as Clarke was expecting Anya to draw back her arm and force her out the way that she heard Lexa's voice behind her. “Anya.”

The warrior stepped back, her eyes now blinking with confusion. “Heda?”

“Draw your sword.” The Commander ordered as she picked up one of the training blades, twirling it in her hand before facing the other woman.

Anya made no move towards unsheathing her own weapon again, her jaw set and body tensing as her Commander quickly covered the distance between them. Knowing what was coming, Clarke stumbled backwards, hastily putting space between herself and Anya.

Lexa's blunted blade swept towards Anya's face. The woman barely managed to duck in time, the sword sailing mere centimetres above her head.

I said draw your sword!” The Commander barked in Trigedasleng as she raised her weapon again.

This time her blow was met by Anya's sword, the metal of their blades scraping together as Anya forced Lexa's weapon away from her. The Commander gave her former mentor no chance to recover as she hammered more strikes at the other woman, not relenting even as Anya stumbled back under the pressure.

With a roared scream Anya finally broke loose.

For every swipe of the Commander's blade, Anya was returning an equally powerful counter. Metal clanged and the dirt beneath their feet started to cloud into the air around them, as they continued to fight.

It was with a twist of her sword that Anya managed to disarm the Commander, leaving her blade lying uselessly on the ground. Even across the distance between them, Clarke still heard the hilt of Anya's sword colliding with Lexa's jaw.

Sweat was dripping down both their brows as they both froze, their chests rising in equally erratic patterns as they panted for air.

Black blood welled from Lexa's split lip, the dark liquid dripping down her chin and onto the worn ground. Anya seemed entranced by it, the light sheen in her eyes caught in the dying sun.


Clarke had never heard Anya's voice sound so small before.

At the sound of her name Lexa stepped forwards, her arms quickly wrapping around Anya's body as it pitched forwards. She couldn't quite hear what Lexa was saying to her, but Clarke could just make out the familiar mumbles of Trigedasleng as she comforted her former mentor.

Anya's body shook, her hands finally bunching the material of the other woman's coat as she returned her embrace. A part of Clarke wanted to rush to Anya's side, to gather her up in her own arms of comfort. That part of her also knew that this time it wasn't her place.

Not wanting to intrude on the moment any more than she had already, Clarke slowly backed out the clearing until she was in the tree line once again.

“This way Wanheda.” A deep voice rumbled from behind her. Clarke nodded as she finally turned away from the huddled forms in front of her.

The guards outside the Commander's tent didn't say a word to her as she ducked into the dimly lit space.

“How is she?”

It had been an hour since Clarke had left them at the training ground. Despite knowing Anya was perfectly safe with Lexa, she had spent the whole time nervously pacing her tent anyway.

“Anya is... She is strong.” Lexa mused, her back to her as she dipped a cloth into the bowl of water resting on the table. “As she always has been.”

Turning her lover's body around, Clarke frowned at the blood that was still on her face. “I can see that.”

“I had to let her hit me.”

Clarke smiled as she took the cloth from Lexa's hand, gently dabbing the dried blood away for her. “Of course you did.”

Lexa let out a grumble at Clarke's disbelieving tone.

“You'll live.”

A heavy breath exhaled from Lexa's nose. “Clarke...”

“Lexa...” Clarke sighed, knowing exactly what the brunette was about to say.

“Clarke, my death is a possibility you must accept.” She was only partially surprised that Lexa was bringing up her own mortality once again.

Rolling her eyes, Clarke dipped the cloth in the water again. “No it isn't.”

Before the blonde could bring the cloth back to Lexa's face again, the other woman caught her wrist. “Must you argue everything.”

“When it comes to that?” Clarke pulled away from the grip Lexa had on her. “Yes.”

Silently, Clarke continued to wipe at Lexa's lip. Dark blood quickly stained the material black again.

Your life matters to me Lexa. Not the Commander's.”

Clarke watched as Lexa swallowed, her head nodding only slightly. “I will not fall easily.”

It fell short of an acceptance, so Clarke rolled her eyes before pushing forwards to gently kiss Lexa's damaged lip. “You won't fall at all.”

A groan erupted from Clarke's throat as the brunette dipped her head forwards to kiss her again. Clarke could taste the light tang of metal from the cut on Lexa's lip; so as carefully as possible she skimmed her tongue over the wound.

It was a loud clang from outside the tent that had Clarke pulling back, her forehead resting against Lexa's, as she tried to bring her breathing under control.

“I'll always find you.” Lexa whispered.

Clarke could feel the quiver of her lip as she gently kissed her again. “I'm right here.

The brunette sighed as she pulled away from Clarke fully. “The ceremony will begin soon.”

Before Lexa could reach for her coat, Clarke quickly pulled on her arm. “Let me.”

Quietly Clarke dressed her lover, her hands lingering as she dragged them across Lexa's body to buckle her coat and shoulder guard into place.

“You should leave your war paint off.” Clarke whispered as she wrapped her arms around the older woman's waist from behind. “Let your warriors see you.”

Lexa sighed heavily as she leant her weight into Clarke's embrace. “Okay.”

“Heda?” Someone called through the tent, making Lexa sigh again.

“It's time.” The brunette said quietly, before stepping out of Clarke's hold.

There were two guards waiting for them outside the tent, both of them bowing their heads respectfully. Clarke followed in silence as they escorted their Heda towards the funeral pyres.

Despite craving nothing more than to stand beside Lexa during the ceremony, Clarke knew that just like the training ground, in that moment, it wasn't her place. Seeing her own people were gathered together at the back of the crowd, the blonde split away from the Commander's escort to stand beside Octavia.

The crowd watched silently as the leader of the coalition stepped onto the make shift wooden platform that had been placed in front of the pyres. From the darkness Anya and Indra took their positions beside her.

“Did she know this would happen?” Octavia asked her quietly and Clarke shook her head.

We gather to burn the bodies of our warriors.” The Commander announced, her voice unwavering as her eyes scanned the crowd.“To burn those who once fought beside us. This war will see the death of many, but we will honour our dead. We will honour their spirits.”

“Yu gonplei ste odon.” Lexa said as she stepped down onto the ground again. Clarke shivered as the crowd solemnly returned the words.

“Yu gonplei ste odon.” She muttered too.

It was the Commander who lit the pyre first, with Anya and Indra stepping down to light their own pyres a moment later. Each of them moved around their stacks, lowering the torch to set more and more of the wood alight.

The smell of burning flesh was horrifically familiar to Clarke. She felt her throat tighten at the acrid scent. This wouldn't be the last pyre they would burn, and she suspected it wouldn't be the biggest either.

There was an eerie calm the next morning as thick fog smothered the camp. During the night, the funeral pyres had burnt themselves out, but the smell of burning still lingered heavy in the air.

Anya had been late returning to their tent, the woman offering no words of greeting as she silently slipped beneath the furs of her bed. By the time Clarke had awoken the next morning, the Grounder had already disappeared, the furs of her bed cold to the touch.

“This mood will not win us the war.” Indra commented as Clarke walked beside her. It was as if the weather was reflecting the mood of the Grounder's, the laughter and life of the camp from the previous days now mournful and morose.

Despite Lexa providing extra warriors to support her people, Clarke still wanted them to be as prepared as possible for any physical attacks that would come their way. To her surprise, Indra had readily agreed to help train them for a third day.

“It's what Nia wants them to feel like.” Clarke replied as they walked through another strip of tents.

“You!” Indra suddenly shouted, making Clarke jolt to a halt. There was a young man sitting in front of a fire, his sword stabbed into the ground in front of him. “This is not the training ground.”

Quickly, he scrambled to his feet. “I-”

Go.” Indra growled. “Now!

“Are you single-handedly going to motivate every warrior here?”

“If that's what I have to do, then I will do it.”

Through the fog, Clarke could see movement up ahead. The blonde squinted her eyes when she saw the horses in front of them. “Is that the Boat People?”

“Yes.” Indra replied.

“It's Luna.” Creasing her brow Clarke turned back to the General. “I thought she wanted nothing to do with the war?”

“The coward is not here for war.” Indra growled as she started to march off in front of her. “She's here to convince Heda to stop it.”

Practically jogging after the angry Grounder, Clarke followed Indra towards the Commander's tent, ducking inside only moments after her.

“Your people will not have to fight. I have already promised you that, Luna.” Lexa sighed, continuing despite the interruption of their entrance.

“It's not just them.” Luna replied. “You don't have to fight this battle.”

“I don't have a choice.” The Coalition leader said exasperatedly as she rolled up a map. “War is on our doorstep. If Nia remains unopposed, she will take the title of Commander for Azgeda by force.”

“And if that saved the lives of hundreds?” The Floukru leader protested.

Clarke watched as the Commander's jaw twitched, her arms crossing behind her back as she began pacing the small space in front of her.

“When?” She finally asked.

“I don't understand-”

“When did Nia send her messenger to you?”

The tension in the tent was almost crushing.

“Two days ago.” Luna answered quietly. “She says you and your army will be free to leave unharmed if Ontari becomes Heda. If you step down we can have peace-”

“We fight this war so we can have peace!” The rightful Commander snapped back.

“War doesn't give you peace!”

Clarke was hit with a sudden wave of melancholy as she remembered Finn. In that moment, she wished he had still been alive. That he could have met Luna and know that he wasn't alone in wishing for peace without bloodshed. Finn would have been right there beside the Boat People's leader, begging Lexa to find another way, to somehow conjure up hope of a peaceful resolution where there was none.

“So you suggest we do nothing?” The Commander asked darkly. “You remember what happened the last time our people did nothing. He became Heda.”

“Nia swore-”

“And he swore you wouldn't have to kill your bother.” Clarke could see the way Luna flinched at her words.

“There are hundreds of people out there.” Luna said quietly, her eyes still burning with passion. “All willing to die because you command them to.”

“I do not want to fight this war, Luna, but I'll fight a hundred more if it means protecting thousands of our people from someone like him again.”

Indra's hand was on her sword, her fingers gripping around the hilt as her eyes glared at the Floukru leader.

It was just as Luna was about to respond that the entrance to the tent opened. Immediately, Clarke recognised the hulking figure that ducked inside. “Magnus.”

“Wanheda.” Standing to his full height, the Rock Line's Leader looked around the tent. “This doesn't strike me as a friendly gathering.”

“Luna was just leaving.” The statement ended their argument. “Indra, show the Boat Clan to their tents.”

Yes, Heda.”

For a moment, Clarke thought Luna was going to refuse to leave, her eyes staring resentfully at her Commander. “Yes Heda.” She finally replied.

“The blockade is in place?” The brunette asked as soon as Luna had left them.

Magnus grunted, nodding his head as he poured himself some water. “No more supplies will be coming from the Yujleda or north of Azgeda.”

“Your troop is here?” She pointed down to the map, while Magnus leant over the table.

“We took the bridge to the north as well.”

“Good.” Lexa nodded as she studied the map for a moment. “The fewer supplies coming into Azgeda, the sooner Nia will have to act before her army weakens.”

It was as Magnus poured himself another cup of water that Clarke noticed the dark stain on the front of his shirt.

“You're bleeding.” Clarke tutted as she pulled back the loose material on the towering man's chest.

“A flesh wound.”

“That can still get infected.” Clarke uttered, her eyes looking up at Magnus's sternly when she saw the cut in fact stretched across at least five inches of skin. “Sit.”

The big man collapsed into the chair, the wood straining under his muscular weight. “Has she always been like this, Heda?”

“I find Wanheda's...” Lexa trailed off for a moment, her head cocking to the side. “...approach to authority refreshing.”

“Wanheda is right here.” Clarke quipped as she placed the bowl of water onto the table.

Magnus's chest rumbled with a deep laugh as he ripped at his shirt to give Clarke better access.

“What happened?” Clarke asked as she gently dabbed at the wound.

“Ice Nation scouts were across the border again.”

“Nia will be preparing to move soon.” Lexa commented distractedly. Out the corner of her eye, Clarke could see Lexa's jaw twitching from side to side. “Bring me the Generals when you are done. We need to make our own final preparations.”

The meeting with the Generals had been long and arduous. Despite already being close to a full plan of action, none of them were willing to back down from their own ideas until the Commander had threatened to have them all demoted, if they couldn't come to an agreement.

Fatigue was tempting her to sleep, but Clarke refused to close her eyes.

Anya was still missing.

The other woman had been around camp; Clarke had caught glances of her and heard the General's familiar voice shouting orders. Even though Anya had witnessed the blonde going through every range of emotion possible, she knew the warrior was perceiving her own breakdown as a sign of weakness.

It was as Clarke's eyes were starting to drift shut against her will that the entrance to the tent finally opened when Anya stepped inside.

“Hey.” Clarke greeted. From the way Anya's body tensed she knew the other woman had been expecting her to be asleep.

Anya grunted in response, unabashedly stripping off her sweat soaked shirt in the low light of the candles.

“How are your ribs?” Clarke asked, her eyes seeking out the shrinking patch of bruised skin.


“Anya...” Clarke said tiredly.

The other woman huffed as she pulled on a clean top. “I'm not about to crawl into your bed and cry in your arms, Sky girl.”

Clarke rolled her eyes, watching the warrior as she splashed water over her face. “I wasn't expecting you to.”

“Good. Now go to sleep.” She said over her shoulder while she rubbed a cloth over her wet face.

Ignoring her, and disregarding the way her tired limbs protested, Clarke pushed herself out the bed. “Hey.”

“No.” Anya responded, throwing the cloth back onto the table.


The Grounder spun around, her face twitching and angry, but Clarke could see the wetness in her eyes that she was trying to blink away. “I said, no.”

“I haven't even asked you anything yet.” Clarke replied simply.

Slowly shifting towards her, the younger woman reached out to pull on her friend's arm. She didn't resist. Surprisingly, Anya fell straight into the embrace, her tense body becoming boneless as Clarke wrapped her arms around her.

“Stop being so stubborn.” Clarke whispered into the side of her neck.

Anya let out a grunt. “You're one to talk, Sky girl.”

“I'm sorry, Clarke.”

Clarke's eyes flew open.

They were back at Mount Weather, the rain beating down on them. It was a familiar scene, except the Commander's war paint dripped off her chin in thick black drops as the rain ran down her face.

“No. No you can't do this to me again Lexa, you can't.” Clarke tried to plead as she tested the grip of the hands that were holding her in place.

“This is for all our people.”

The strong hands of her unseen captors gripped onto her arms as Clarke tried to pull free of them. The bloodied tree stump that was suddenly sitting in the middle of the clearing only spurring her into a more frantic struggle.

The ground erupted with butterflies as they stepped across the thick mud. It wasn't anything like the beautiful rising of colour she had seen that day at the drop ship with Anya though.

The light hues of blue were replaced with deep crimson as the harsh wings scratched her face. Bloody streaks ran down each wing; drops raining down from the sky as they rose into the tree tops.

Grunting, Clarke's knees hit the now saturated ground, blood instantly soaking through her clothes.

“Shhh,” Anya cooed from beside her. Strong, familiar fingers gently massaged her scalp as she pushed the blonde's head down onto the stump. “It will be over soon, Clarke.”

“Anya, you don't have to do this.” She tried to argue, as her eyes squinted through the rain of blood.

“We do what we have to, Clarke.”

Clarke couldn't help crying out as she listened to the muffled scrape of Lexa's sword against its scabbard when the Commander unsheathed her weapon.

“May we meet again, Wanheda.”

Clarke's body jerked from the bed, her hand flying to the back of her neck where Lexa's blade had been just about to strike.

Uncomfortably, Clarke swallowed at the dryness in the back of her throat. It had just been another dream.

Go back to sleep.” Anya mumbled from the other side of the tent.

Frowning, Clarke shook the water canister that was next to her bed. The tiny dribble of liquid that remained sloshed at the bottom. “I need to get some more water.”

The older woman just grunted in response, her head burying under the furs as Clarke started to pull on her boots. Only a distant howl and the light rustling of a warrior moving amongst the tents broke the quiet of the camp around them. With a deep breath, the blonde stepped outside.

Clarke inhaled the cold forest air as she relaxed for a moment to let it cool her still-flushed skin.

It was as she started to walk away from the tent that her whole body froze. There was no warrior moving among the tents. It wasn't even a person.

It was a wolf.

In the light from the high moon the grey fur that coated the animal practically glowed. It was bigger than any wolf Clarke had seen before, its shoulders wider, and its muzzle thicker.

With its nose twitching at the ground, it slowly walked closer to her.

Clarke couldn't be sure exactly what drew its attention but she dropped the canteen in fright as its head snapped up to look at her. Sharp teeth flashed in the light of the moon as the animal lowered its body, a feral growl resounding from its throat.

“Shhhh, it's okay.” She whispered quietly, her hands raised in surrender as she started to back away from the creature. “It's okay.”

The wolf's snapping bark had her freezing to the spot again. In her periphery, Clarke caught sight of the second wolf slowly approaching her from the side. Another low growl joined the first, both wolves now stalking towards her.

Reaching behind her, Clarke slowly drew her dagger from its holster. It would do little to protect her from the two animals, but she gripped it regardless.

In the blink of an eye, the wolf in front of her leapt through the air.

Strong paws collided with Clarke's sternum, forcing her to follow the momentum as she fell to the ground. She didn't have much time. When the beast's jaws snapped towards her throat, she thrust her dagger upwards until it was lodged into its jugular.

Hot blood splashed her face as the wolf whimpered uselessly. Pulling the blade free, Clarke watched as the animal gurgled, choking on the blood that was now flooding its throat.

The other wolf was still poised to attack, so with everything she had, Clarke pushed at the thick fur on top of her. The weight was immense though. Frozen in its dying throes, the wolf was slowly crushing the life out of her.

Then it was gone.

A cry tore from Anya's throat as she kicked the wolf off her. Finally, Clarke drew a sharp breath of air into her starved lungs, her vision blotting as the oxygen rushed around her body.

Letting out another vicious cry, the Grounder ran towards the second beast.

With Anya suddenly bearing down on it, the wolf that had been poised to attack quickly tried to duck through the guide lines of a tent. The retreat was it's downfall. With its paws tangled in the lines, Anya's twin swords cleaved down, both slicing into the wolf's flesh.

The animal's cry of pain echoed around the camp, and Clarke could hear the resounding howls of the pack in the woods surrounding them. The injured beast struggled further, its eyes wide as it pulled against the restraining material until it was free.

Anya tried to bring her swords down again, her blades just missing the animals tail, as it launched its body around the corner and out of sight.

Dropping her weapons to the ground, Anya quickly threw herself to her knees beside her tentmate.

“Clarke, Clarke look at me.” Warm hands pulled her face upright. Wincing, Clarke sat up, her chest protesting the movement.

Anya's wild eyes searched her features, deft fingers smearing away the blood splattered on the younger woman's face, looking for any signs of injury.

“I'm fine.” Clarke quickly said. “Just winded.”

The wolf beside her twitched helplessly, the spurts of blood that had previously been erupting from its neck slowing to a trickle as it slowly died.

In the distance, Clarke heard the yelp of another wolf and the cry from a man.


The alarm echoed around the camp, and suddenly the distant howling was pressing in on the camp from all angles.

“What the hell?” Octavia's dishevelled head shot out of her tent, eyes widening the second she saw Clarke on the ground. “Clarke!”

“She's fine.” Anya replied for her, gripping onto the blonde's arm to pull her to your feet. “Rally your people! We're under attack!”

If the wolves were sent by Nia, if they were a distraction, then Clarke knew there was a possibility the guns were Nia's real target. If she took the Skaikru's weapons away, the Ice Nation would suddenly have the advantage.

Without hesitation, Clarke quickly took off towards the truck they were still locked in. Heavy footsteps were running behind her, alerting her that at least some of her people were already following her.

The truck was still where they had left it, but the guards who were protecting it were gone.

Her shaking hands were still covered in blood, the nerves of what she might find inside making her heart pump painfully. Pulling on the handle, Clarke let out a sigh of relief when the door refused to move.

“Clarke!” Monty shouted, from behind her. Twisting her body, the blonde managed to catch the keys he was throwing towards her.

The heavy locks on the door clicked open. Jumping inside, Clarke reached out for the heavy trunk of guns, her arms straining as she pulled it out the door.

“Cover the perimeter!” Hannah ordered as soon as the trunk popped open, her hands reaching past Clarke to start pulling out guns.

If it were any other situation, Clarke might have argued and forced Hannah to fall back in line. With her son standing beside her though, his nimble hands loading a gun for her, Clarke knew his mother was thinking of all their survival.

Before Hannah could run off into the night, Clarke quickly grabbed her arm. “If I find out a single Grounder's been shot, I'll put a bullet in your skull.” She threatened.

Hannah nodded once, her throat-bobbing visible as Clarke clicked the safety off her own weapon.

“Lock the ammunition up! You,” she pointed towards one of the guards, “no one gets in this truck.”

Following the sound of the yelling warriors and snarling wolves, Clarke ran back into the depths of the encampment. It didn't take her long to stumble into the horror show.

Blood covered three tents in a row; high arching splatter that lead to a mauled Grounder, his throat severed and body lifeless.

A wolf wasn't far from him, its muzzle covered in blood.

Despite the months that had passed since she had last handled a gun, Clarke was relieved that her aim remained true. The wolf's head snapped back as the bullet lodge into its skull; its body crumpling to the floor as its life immediately drained away.

She watched the blood, transfixed, as it pooled around the animals bright white fur until a loud roar caught her attention.

Clarke spun, her eyes darting to look for the source of the noise, raising her gun when she caught sight of Magnus. The man was bare from the waist up, his muscles rippling in the bright light of the moon. The deep black wolf in front of him snarled before pouncing.

Its teeth never met their mark though.

With a primal roar, the Rock Line's Leader caught the animal in mid-air, his hands gripping around the wolfs neck. His arms bulged as he lifted the struggling animal higher into the air above him and began choking the life out of it.

He would be fine Clarke quickly realised. With one final glance, she darted off towards the sound of fighting once again.

Two more wolves succumbed to her gun. Their bodies falling limply onto the Grounder they had been attacking. Another was stopped mid-air as it launched itself at her, the beast letting out a single whimper before hitting the ground.

In the distance, Clarke could hear the familiar popping of gun shot, and hoped that it was the wolves her people were firing at. She begged whatever force was looking over them that the gunfire was coming from Skaikru. That a barrage of bullets wasn't about to tear through the Coalition camp.

Clarke stumbled to a stop, her eyes widening. The colossal size of the wolf in front of her had her frozen to the spot. Layers of plated metal covered the light grey fur of its body and head, the dark material covered with smears of white paint. The massive creature was snapping down at a helpless Grounder, its sheer weight keeping them pinned to the floor.

Raising her gun, Clarke fired before grimacing as the bullets deflecting wildly off the thick protection in quick succession. It had been purposefully made to be too thick she realised.

Three bodies already lay splayed around it. Their heads almost completely severed from their bodies by the wolf's frighteningly savage bite. It was as the body shifted underneath the animal once more, that Clarke realised exactly who was trapped there.

With a shaft of wood pressing up against the war beast's jaw, Octavia fought to keep its powerful bite away from her throat.

There was a loud crack.

Clarke could see the wood splinter from the force of the animal's strength.


She didn't think. Her body moved before she could even comprehend the utter stupidity of her actions.

Hurling herself at the animal, Clarke tackled it off the younger girl. Her ribs crunched painfully as the armoured creature rolled on top of her.

Menacing yellow eyes flashed at the blonde as the beast rose onto its feet again.

There was barely time for Clarke to raise her arm before an agonised cry tore from her throat. Vicious teeth pierced her arm, her skin splitting apart as the ferocious creature shook her flesh in its grip.

Flickering her eyes down Clarke saw her opening. For all the armour that covered the massive beast, there was one weak spot, one part of its body that was soft and open for attack.

Leaving her arm trapped in the grip of the animal's mouth, Clarke reached out for the discarded sword that she knew must have belonged to Octavia. Her fingers instantly wrapped around the well-worn grip; and with her own growl, Clarke twisted the sword in towards her. With everything she had, Clarke thrust the sharp blade into the soft under-belly of the great wolf, its body splitting open as she pulled the blade up.

Instantly, her arm was free again.

The wolf stepped off her, its legs suddenly struggling to hold its weight.

Ignoring the pain that was pulsing through her arm, Clarke pushed herself to her feet.

Blood and innards were leaking from the beast, its hulking form stumbling away from her as it tried to keep its footing. All the rage, all the anger that had been bubbling within the blonde for weeks, for months, erupted.

Kicking at the plate of armour that covered the beast's neck Clarke let out a cry as she raised the sword above her head. With both her hands gripping onto the hilt she cleaved the blade down onto the beasts neck.

It wasn't a clean cut, the head remaining firmly attached to its body. With a startled whimper from the blow, the wolf fell forwards. Again, Clarke lifted the sword and hacked down. The flesh gave way beneath her hand, and Clarke felt the blade hitting bone.

Again, Clarke raised the sword above her head, and screamed as it chopped down into the animal. Again. Again. Again.

The wolf was long dead. Its life already chocked out of it by the overwhelming force of her blade. She continued though, her eyes wild as she unleashed everything she had onto the creature.

Blood flew from the beast, and Clarke wiped her face on the already saturated sleeve of her shirt before delivering her final blow. As her sword hit the ground, the wolf's head finally detaching from its body, she stumbled forwards.

The ground beneath her feet had pooled with blood, the warm liquid seeping into the material of her boots. She was covered. Every part of her dripped with the blood and flesh of the war beast.

She felt an almost terrifying calmness settle over her as she stared down at her work.

With an exhausted sigh, Clarke looked up to find Octavia. The younger girl was directly in front of her, her deep brown eyes wide with shock.

Blinking in surprise, the blonde suddenly noticed the Grounder's standing behind her. Tens of them had watched her savagery. Under the weight of their collective stare, Clarke wanted nothing more than to shrink back into the darkness.

“Wanheda.” She heard them mutter.

“-slew the wolves with her bare hands-”


-wears their blood-”

-do not look at her-”


“-killed the War Beast-”


And as blood continued to trickle down her face, Clarke raised her sword into the air.

“WANHEDA!” The crowd roared.

Chapter Text


Blood dripped from the blonde's chin as she scanned the crowd of warriors in front of her.

“Clarke, we need to leave.” The voice beside her said again.

Slowly, their steps hesitant, the Grounders started to advance on her, the darkness masking their quickly growing numbers. Their chanting had dropped to a soft murmur, but Clarke could still hear the gently rumble of her name.


They had seen her. Every one of them had watched her as she butchered the animal at her feet.


She wanted to run, her feet itching for her to turn tail and take off into the night. It was then, as the first Grounder stepped in front of her, that Clarke found herself freezing instead. The panic that had been slowly swirling in her stomach was suddenly threatening to rise up and choke her.

Clarke gasped at the first touch.

Strong hands brushed against her body as the Grounders clambered to touch her, their calloused fingers quickly smearing the blood over her face as they struggled over each other.


The crowd rotated, each warrior reaching for her in awe before ducking through the bodies and out into the camp around them.

Clarke wasn't sure how long she stood there. She wasn't sure how many hands brushed against her. All she knew was the numbness that was starting to settle in her bones.

Wanheda.” The last Grounder whispered to her, their hand brushing against back completely unseen.

Only the screams and howls of the camp were there to comfort her as she stood alone once more. She hadn't meant for it to happen. She hadn't meant for them to see-

“Let go of the sword.” A hand was suddenly pulling at her arm, the fingers brushing against the raw bite mark.

Without thinking, Clarke pushed at them, her weapon rising into the air-

“Clarke?!” Scared brown eyes stared at her from the ground.

Blood was leaking from the collar of Octavia's shirt, her raised hands still bleeding from the splintered wood she had been using to hold off the wolf. Clarke stared at her, her head trying to catch up with what she was seeing.

It was Octavia. She wasn't under attack. Octavia wasn't the enemy. Clarke knew that, yet still her heart pounded as if the brunette at her feet was a threat. As her mind twisted to understand it suddenly struck her that the familiar popping of gunfire had ceased.

“I can't hear any gunfire.” The blonde uttered numbly.

Octavia seemed to notice the lack of sound too, her throat visibly bobbing. “I'm sure it's nothing.”

Clarke looked back the way she had come. If the gunfire had stopped... If her people couldn't fire any more-

“We have to go.” She announced.

“No. Clarke,” Octavia scrambled to her feet, her hand reaching out to grip onto Clarke's right arm before she could even turn away. The pain seemed to shoot all the way up her limb and into her chest, forcing a sharp cry from her. “You're hurt.”

“It's nothing.” She gritted out as she pulled her injured arm away.

She had to get out of there, she had to get away from the absolute horror her loss of control had left behind.

“Of all the stupid things you've done.” Anya's stoic voice said from behind her. Twisting around, Clarke stared at the bloodied woman. There was a cut above her eyebrow, leaking a trail of blood down her whole face. “With me.”

“I need to go to my-”

“That wasn't a question, Sky girl.”

“And I wasn't asking for your permission!” Clarke suddenly raged, her anger once again burning hot through her veins.

The shout seemed to echo around them, her panting breaths filling up the space in her mind. She needed to calm down, she needed to get herself under control. Closing her eyes, Clarke tried to focus.

She could still hear the howling. She could feel the blood slowly drying on her face. She could smell the sweat and dirt around her. She could feel the calming breeze in the air.

“You're bleeding.” Anya murmured softly.

“It's noth-”

Opening her eyes again, Clarke almost stumbled backwards when she realised how close the other woman was suddenly standing to her. Any protest she had quickly died on her lips as Anya grabbed onto her arm regardless.

The Grounder ripped open her sleeve, and Clarke winced as the material painfully stuck to the skin. The actual sight of the would had her stomach rolling with nausea. Deep teeth marks covered both sides of her arm, the jagged cuts still pooling with deep crimson.

“This is hardly nothing, Wanheda.” Anya snapped before looking over her shoulder at the still shell shocked Octavia. “You. Hold this down.”

Tearing at her own shirt, the Grounder quickly made a wad of material and pressed it down on the injury for Octavia to hold. As soon as the younger girl applied pressure, Anya promptly ripped the bottom of the unsuspecting girls shirt and started to wrap it around Clarke's arm.

The tightening of the bandage made Clarke grimace, her eyes squeezing shut as Anya tied the ends together. The blonde let the pain ground her, used it to bring her back from the edge she had already tumbled over once.

“You don't need to do this, Clarke.” Anya said as she let go of her arm. “We have this under control.”

“I need to know they're okay.” Clarke quickly protested, her eyes scouring the ground for her gun.

It didn't take her long to find it.

When she had tackled the wolf off Octavia, the gun had landed next to her, just out of reach. Just out of reach and right into the path of where the war beast would succumb to its wounds.

Stepping over the animal, Clarke frowned as her hand dipped into the pool of blood. It was almost poetic. Or maybe even prophetic. Losing herself for the briefest of moments, Clarke watched the blood cover her hand completely as she lifted the gun out.

With both Octavia and Anya staring at her expectantly, the blonde quickly looked away from the soiled weapon.

“This way.”

Bodies were scattered throughout the camp. Warriors slain by the wolves that were still tearing through the tents lay motionless on ground whilst the injured hid silently waiting for the raid to end. The animals howls still permeated the air, their growls seemingly coming from every corner they ran past.

“Where the hell did they even come from?!” Clarke shouted over her shoulder as she shot at another wolf.

“I don't-” Anya grunted, her sword pulling out of the dying animal she had just struck. “-know.”

Despite their efforts to make it towards the gunfire, Clarke couldn't help feeling like they were going backwards. Every turn they took was met with either a battle between the Grounders and the wolves or another lone animal waiting to tear them apart.

Octavia stopped beside them, completely breathless as she adjusted the make shift bandages wrapped around her hands. “Indra told me Azgeda have always used them.”

“Never this many.” Anya replied, distractedly shaking the blood off her sword.

“How many more does she have?” Clarke panted as she wildly searched darkness around them.

“Is this not enough for you, Wanheda?” The Grounder mocked, gently pushing her back in the direction they had been running.

The tents around them started to become familiar, as were the two people sitting on the ground in the distance.

“Monty!” Clarke called, her legs cramping from the effort of sprinted towards him.

“I'm fine, we're fine.” He reassured her as she stumbled to a halt in front of him. Hannah was sat beside him, blood leaking past the bandage he was wrapping around her head.

“A flesh wound.” Hannah gritted out. “The Ice Nation were here. They were in woods, just waiting there, we caught them by surprise.”

“The Commander was there. She told us to leave-” Monty rushed out, his words almost crashing over each other. “The other's, they stayed behind with her.”

Up ahead, Clarke could hear the clash of steel. They were still fighting. Still trying to protect the camp. Looking up, she could see the way Anya's jaw tensed her gaze locked on the same direction. Clarke could see the longing in her eyes, the need for her to head to the battle.

“Go.” The blonde pushed. “We'll be safe here.”

The General didn't look convinced, her gaze drifting between her and the trees for a moment.

“Anya, go.” Clarke pushed again, reaching out to squeeze at the woman's arm. With a final look behind her, the Grounder was off, both her swords held firmly in her hands as she ran into the darkness.

“What do we do, Clarke?” Monty asked her desperately. “What do we do?”

“I don't- We...” Looking up she watched as a Grounder killed another wolf. “We trust the Grounders. We let them protect us from-”

Piercing whistles screeched from all around them, the high pitched sound making Clarke cover her suddenly ringing ears.

“What the hell?” Octavia asked as she rubbed her hand against the side of her head.

As if by answer, the camp behind them started to echo with howls.

“They're calling the wolves back...” Clarke guessed as she tried to listen for the direction the animals were heading in.

“Is that it? Did we win?” Monty questioned, his eyes wide and hopeful.

“No. Nia didn't get what she wanted. Is the rover safe?” Clarke asked, and both Hannah and her son nodded.

“They never made it past the border of the camp,” Hannah answered. “The Commander was holding them off when we left.”

“Lexa...” Clarke muttered, her own longing to run in the direction of the fading sound of fighting suddenly blooming within her. “I'm going to check on it, Octavia stay here with them.”

Octavia was already shaking her head. “No. I'm not letting you go alone.”

“I can take care of myself.” The blonde replied, already striding away from them all.

She hadn't made it more than a few steps when Octavia pulled her arm back, making her hiss when her fingers wrapped around the bite on her arm.

“That's not what I'm worried about.” The girl quietly protested.

Clarke could feel her brow furrowing as she dipped her head closer. “What?”

“You lost control-” Octavia began, and Clarke shuddered at the sudden memory of hacking her sword down onto the wolf's neck.

“Just-” Looking away for a moment, the blonde tried to clear her head. “Just look after them okay?”

Without waiting for the girl's response, Clarke took off across the camp again. The rover wasn't far, and as the vehicle came into view she felt her stomach twist with worry.

The guard she had left there was gone.

With her gun raised, the blonde tried the back door, relieved to once again find it locked. The front was her next stop and she warily crept around the vehicle, her gun still ready.

It was as she let out a sigh of relief from finding the front door locked that she heard the sound of footsteps coming from the other side. Lowering herself to the floor, Clarke barely restraining her gasp when she spotted fur boots slowly creeping towards the back of the rover.

Trying to bury the groan of pain in her throat, she carefully pushed herself back to her feet. The Grounder on the other side of the truck didn't know she was there, if she could just make it around the back without being spotted... Taking a deep breath, Clarke carefully stepped back the way she came, her heart racing as she twisted around the corner and prepared to fire.

Except, there was nothing there. No warrior. No Grounder. Nothing but the trees-

Hot, stinging pain suddenly erupted from the back of her skull.

The blow to the back of her head had her stumbling forwards, her feet tripping over themselves as she tried to keep herself upright. The Azgeda warrior towered over her, his bearded face covered in dirt and blood.

Any cry for help was stilted the second his fist collided with her throat, forcing her back to slam into the rover. She felt the uncomfortable crushing of her wind pipe and her breath wheezed.

Clarke barely had time to step forwards when the gun was knocked out of her hand. The bones and tendons protested at the impact, the wound further up her arm smarting once more.

It was a kick to her knee that sent her collapsing to the ground, the landing reverberating through her whole body.

In a matter of seconds she had been reduced to a pile of pained flesh. Her wrist, her leg, her throat, her whole body burning with discomfort.

Death to the Wanheda.” The man grunted as he raised his sword above his head.

She was going to die she suddenly realised.

After everything. After all the near ends she had experienced. She was going to die alone, quietly, and without telling Lexa that she-

Gritting her teeth, Clarke glared up at her would be executioner. She was not going to go quietly . With a growl, the blonde prepared herself to launch upwards, to tackle the Azgeda warrior to the floor, to choke the life out of him with her bare hands if she had to.

The strike of the man's sword never came though.

Blood suddenly gurgled from the warriors mouth, his wide eyes staring down at her as his blade fell uselessly to his feet. Frowning in confusion, Clarke scoured his body before gasping at the sight of the sword poking through the man's chest, the tip shining brightly in the moonlight. She could see the life slowly draining from him as his breathing failed him.

With a twist of their weapon, the person behind him let the warriors body thud lifelessly against the dirt, and Clarke held her breath as they were revealed to her.


Her whole body sagged in relief.

“Lexa?” She strained, her throat still unwilling to let any sound out.

The other woman was on her knees in an instant, her hands and eyes searching every part of her blood stained body. “Where are you hurt?”

Shaking her head, Clarke pulled the brunette's hands away from her face. “Help me up.” She managed to croak.

With her elbows braced in Lexa's hands, she pushed herself to her feet, her knee twinging when she let her weight rest on it.

The other woman's face was devoid of warpaint, her shoulder guard and coat nowhere in sight. The wound Anya had inflicted the day before was split open again leaving a trail of black blood down her chin. Dirt caked her face, with leaves and twigs caught up in barely braided hair.

“The Ice Nation-”

“Retreated.” Lexa quickly assured her, her eyes still scanning Clarke's face for injury. “We held them off in the woods.”

“The gun fire-” She wheezed, having to swallow back the discomfort. “It stopped.”

The question went unsaid, but Lexa nodded in understanding. “They're fine. Your people are fine. I ordered them to stop.”

They were safe. Lexa was safe.

Emotion overrode every sense in her body before Clarke could even realise what she was doing.

In a heartbeat their lips crashed together as Clarke harshly kissed the other woman. It was messy, uncoordinated, and the blonde could taste the blood on Lexa's lips. She could taste the earth. She could taste her.

It didn't last long, their lips roughly moving together for only the briefest of moments before they were pulling away again.

“I'm sorry.” Clarke apologised breathlessly, suddenly all to aware that she had just kissed the Commander of the coalition in the middle of camp.

“Clarke.” Lexa whispered, her forehead leaning against hers.

There were shouts all around them as the warriors of the camp continued to scramble.

“The camp's in chaos.” She stated, feeling Lexa nod against her.

“Then I'll bring them order.” The other woman replied, the deep demanding tone of the Commander already seeping into her voice.

Indra!” The Commander called, her back straight and blood drenched sword still firmly in her hand. “Have the General's brought to my tent.”

Whilst Clarke had been away, the older Grounder had apparently found her way to Monty and Octavia. In the light of the moon, she could just make out the wet sheen of blood that was covering her light armour.

Yes, Heda.” She nodded as she grabbed onto a still dazed Octavia. “Come with me. You too boy.” She ordered Monty.

“But-” He tried to protest as he looked down at his injured mother.

“I'm fine. Go with her.” Hannah assured him, and Clarke almost had to ask her to repeat herself. Of all the things she was expecting the woman to say, it wasn't her encouraging Monty to go with Indra.

“Where is Anya?” The Commander asked her.

Leaning in closer, Clarke lowered her voice. “She went towards the fighting. She was fine.”

Lexa nodded at her. “You.” She pointed towards one of the warrior's “Find Anya and tell her to secure the perimeter.”

The woman nodded, before running into the darkness.

Clear the camp! Have the bodies ready for the pyre tomorrow. Have the wolves pelted.” The warrior's didn't move, all of them just staring at their Heda. “Now!

The Grounder's suddenly sprung into action, all of them splitting into groups as they ran to carry out the Commander's orders.

“Wanheda,” Lexa growled from beside her. “With me.”

The brunette was taking them straight towards the Commander's tent, her voice barking orders as they went. Eyes were staring at them as they marched through the camp. Staring at her.

“Do you want to tell me why everyone is staring at you?” The other woman questioned quietly from beside her. Clarke swallowed as they turned a familiar corner, dropping her eyes. She knew exactly what was there.

Lexa stopped short, and the blonde didn't have to look at her to know her green eyes would be wide with shock at the horror in front of them.

“Who-” The other woman started before cutting herself off. Clarke kept her eyes studiously directed at the dirt underneath her feet, ignoring Lexa as she turned to face her. “Was this you?” She asked, and Clarke wished she could read the emotion behind her stoic voice.

“I- It-” She stuttered, her eyes unwilling to look at the destruction she had left behind.

As the blonde started to draw into herself once more, a strong hand lifted her chin.

The fear on Lexa's face was palpable. “Clarke. Was this you?” She asked again.

Looking past the other woman's shoulder, Clarke felt the shame trying to drown her. “Yes.” She croaked.

Dropping her hand away, Lexa glanced at the tents around her before she was striding towards the entrance of the closest and lifting the flap open.

“Inside.” She ordered.

The tent was smaller than her own. Two bundles of fur on either side marking the occupants beds with a single chair sitting between them. It was that very chair Lexa forced her to sit in as she dropped to her knees in front of her again.

“Where are you hurt?” She whispered, her hands cupping Clarke's cheeks as she worriedly searched her face.

The memory of the beast's grip around her flesh made her arm throb. Looking down she realised the wound had almost completely saturated the bandage, hiding it against her blood stained clothes.

“It's nothing.” She tried to deflect anyway, her hand quickly covering the bite. If Lexa didn't see it, if she forgot it was even there then maybe she could pretend it never even happened.

“Let me see.” Lexa softly demanded regardless.

Despite her mind screaming at her to get up out the chair and leave the tent, Clarke didn't resist the other woman pulling her hand away. Slowly, the brunette started to unravel the make shift bandage making Clarke grit her teeth as the rough material pulled at her skin.

“We need a healer.”

Glancing down, the blonde felt her stomach churning at the sight of the bite. The bleeding had stopped at least, but the gapping puncture wounds had filled with thick congealed blood.

“Lexa, it can wait.” Clarke quickly protested, but the other woman was already striding back towards the entrance of the tent.

We need a healer. Now!”

“The bleeding stopped, other people need help more than me-”

“This is not a negotiation, Clarke!” Lexa suddenly snapped, and Clarke was wholly unprepared for the outburst. “What were you thinking?!”

Still reeling, Clarke tried to gather her thoughts enough to explain. “It had Octavia pinned-”

Lexa scoffed loudly. “You are not indestructible!”

“Yeah, I kinda noticed that.”

“You could have been killed.” The other woman gritted out, her jaw tensing.

“Not exactly the first time I've faced death, Heda.” It was a low blow, and Clarke only fully realised the full connotation her words could have had when Lexa stumbled back as if she had just been struck. “Lexa-”

The tent entrance burst open as a small woman came running in.

Her arm.” The Commander directed, pointing her towards the chair.

The healer dropped to her knees in front of Clarke, twisting her arm to look at the bite. “The wound is deep, Wanheda.” She commented as the blonde tried not to wince at her prodding.

Clenching her fist, the blonde grimaced at the pain before opening her hand and wriggling her fingers. “Seal it.”

The woman looked unsure for a moment before nodding. “Yes, Wanheda.”

Clarke could tell that Lexa wanted to be close to her, that she didn't want to be standing on the other side of the tent whilst the healer silently worked. The cleaning was the worst part. Her teeth almost broke through the skin of her lip as the woman pulled out the strands of fabric that had become stuck inside her.

The pain of the stitching was hardly better. Each pull of the thread had Clarke breathing heavily through her nose as the wound was slowly sown shut again. It wasn't the best stitching Clarke had ever seen. The sutures too wide, the thread too thin, but it would hold. It would heal.

Go,” Clarke demanded in Trigedasleng as soon as the last stitch was complete. “There are others that need you.”

Quickly, the woman scurried back out the tent, presumably back to the Grounder she had been treating before the Commander had her dragged away.

The air between them started to shift into an uncomfortable tension, but still Clarke refused to look back up at the other woman.

“I'm sorry.” Lexa apologised gently, the soft sound making Clarke shift her gaze to meet the distressed green of her eyes. “I let my worry get the better of me.”

“It's okay.” Clarke relented.

“No. It wasn't.” The brunette replied, still keeping her distance.

“I- Lex- I-” Her words jumbled into nothing as the adrenaline that had kept her going seemed to drain from her body.

In just two long stride, Lexa was wrapping her arms around her. Just the simple hold of her arms felt like they were grounding her again, the tight grip of her hands keeping her from falling apart completely.

Clarke buried her face into the side of her lover's neck, breathing in deeply as she inhaled the woman's scent. Tears were prickling at her eyes, the moisture wiping against Lexa's neck whilst the woman whispered broken words of Trigedasleng into her hair.

“The two wolves that attacked Wanheda had strayed from their pack.” One of the General's from the Sankru explained. She was tall, her long dark hair twisted into small braids and her skin littered with blocks of black tattoos. When Clarke had first entered the tent she had been busy sketching out a map of the encampment for them, her skilled fingers capturing the layout perfectly in minutes. “The rest of the attack was concentrated here.” She said, pointing her finger to the top of the map.

“Where were the Azgeda warriors?” Magnus asked, his shirt still stained almost completely red.

The General picked up her charcoal again and circled the land closest to the Skaikru tents.

“So Skaikru were the targets.” Indra noted, her hands leaning on the table beside Magnus as she scanned the map. “You were right, Heda.”

The Commander nodded and continued slowly pacing the length of the tent. Whilst discussing the attack, Indra had already revealed that Lexa had immediately headed to the south of the camp, seeing the wolves as the distraction they were meant to be. It was where she had found Clarke's people blindly shooting into the woods, and despite Indra's misgivings, the strategy had worked. Baring the Azgeda warrior that had attacked Clarke, no other Grounder from the Ice Nation had made it inside.

Clarke knew it could have been a devastating blow if they hadn't kept the Ice Nation raiders away. Out of all the guards that went into the woods there were only superficial injuries. The closest to any real harm had been Hannah. If Indra hadn't tackled the woman to the floor she would have ended up with an arrow embedding itself in the centre of her skull.

Magnus looked at Indra curiously. “Then why not direct the wolves straight at the Skaikru camp?”

“Because my people weren't the real target.” Clarke replied for her. “Our weapons were.”

“And how do you know that?” Luna challenged as she glared at Clarke from across the tent.

“Because,” the blonde said as she stared straight back. “It's what I would have done.”

The Commander suddenly growled, the sound almost as inhuman as the wolves that had attacked them. “How did we not see this coming?” She snapped. “Why did our scouts see nothing?!”

“They were not at the Azgeda camp, Heda.” One of the General's Clarke was sure hailed from Delphi answered.

“Did you not see what those creatures did? Would you keep a weapon that unpredictable inside your camp?” Indra bit back.

The General seemed to shrink in on himself as he ducked his head.

The Commander let out a disgruntled noise as she continued her pacing. “She wanted to throw this camp into chaos. If those wolves hadn't strayed...”

“It was luck the Skaikru awoke first and managed to remove their weapons.” The Sankru General replied.

The Delphi general shook his head. “There is no luck, only fate.”

“Luck and fate have no place in war.” Magnus muttered, his hands gripping onto the side of the table. “We search the woods, the caves, the damn sky if we have to. Those creatures cannot make it to the battlefield.”

Noises of agreement sounded from around the table.

“Send a search party.” The Commander ordered. “The injured wolves will have left a trail.”

“Tonight?” Magnus asked.

“No.” Lexa stopped her pacing. “Tonight we rest.”

“With all due respect Heda,” the General from the Sankru began. “Should we not follow the trail whilst it is fresh?”

“Their retreat will be covered.” Indra replied. “Azgeda is no novice in war. In the light we can find their traps.”

“If you send a search party now, they'll be killed...” Clarke noted aloud. “If you delay it, it might be too late.”

“Too late?” Luna questioned again.

“This wasn't just about our weapons. If Nia was going to unleash her army, now would be the time.” The Generals all stared at her, their eyes flickering over her still dishevelled form. “Think about it, the whole camp is awake, it's the middle of the night, she wants us exhausted.”

“Meanwhile the majority of her army is resting.” Magnus commented, the table beginning to groan under his increasingly tight hold.

“Heda?” Indra prompted as the woman resumed her pacing.

“Anya has a patrol around the camp, I want every warrior out there replaced at first light.”

“Sankru will do it. We were furthest away, the damage we suffered was minimal.”

“Have the rest of your warrior's return to their tents. If Wanheda is right, then the camp awake all night will be exactly what Nia wants.” Lexa concluded, her footsteps slowing. “At first light we prepare for war.”

“Yes, Heda.” The Generals all replied in almost complete synchronicity.

“You are dismissed.” The Commander excused, and immediately the Grounders started to file out of the tent. “Wanheda, a word.” Lexa called to her before she could leave

They waited silently together until the last of the General's ducked out of the tent.

“What is it?” Clarke asked as she eyed the other woman worriedly.

To her surprise a smile twitched across Lexa's lips. “Your bath should be ready soon.”

Minutes after the last General had left the tent, the Commander's guards had carried the simple metal tub into the main space. Water was already sloshing inside as they lowered it into position, and Clarke silently watched from the table as they quickly retrieved extra buckets of steaming water to pour in.

Neo was the last to leave, his strong arms cradling a clean set of her clothes.

“Apologies, Wanheda.” The man said, his eyes looking anywhere but her. “I had some clean clothes taken from your tent.”

“Thank you, Neo.”

“Wanheda.” He called before she could walk away. “May I- May I touch the hand that slew the Wolfanda.” He practically stuttered.

Lexa looked over at them curiously as she poured a small bottle of liquid into the water.

“I don't have any special power, Neo.” Clarke tried to argue.

The man coughed awkwardly. “Of course, forgive me for the intrusion.”

“Wait.” Without thinking, Clarke reached out to touch the man's hand.

His palm was bigger than both her hands combined, the skin covered in callouses and scars from his service to the Commander. Looking up at his dark eyes, Clarke felt exposed as tears started to well in them.

“Thank you, Wanheda.” The guard muttered as he stared down at their conjoined hands in complete awe.

You may leave, Neo.” Lexa prompted the man.

Instantly Neo's hands dropped away as if her touch had burnt them. “Yes, Heda.”

Lexa smiled at her as the guard practically fled the room. “Your bath is ready.”

Sighing, Clarke shook her head as Lexa stripped off her coat. “A bath? Really?”

“I was having one prepared before the attack.”

“You were awake?”

“I was...” The other woman drifted off for a moment, her hand rubbing at the back of her neck. “Distracted.”

“And your people are okay with me bathing in here? With you here?”

“Some of them would even encourage it now.” Lexa smirked as she slowly approached her.

“I-” Clarke shrunk back slightly. “Could we not, tonight? I just-”

“Clarke.” The brunette whispered as she took her hand in her own, her thumb brushing across her knuckles. “This isn't about- This isn't about that.” She stressed. “Let me take care of you.”

Eyeing the steaming water, Clarke could feel her muscles practically begging her to slip inside to release the tension that was still coiled within them. To wash away the sweat and blood that still coated her body.

“Your legend grows stronger, Clarke.” Lifting her arm, Lexa gently brushed a stray lock of her blonde hair behind her ear. “The legendary Wanheda just slew a wolf pack with her bare hands.”

“It wasn't just me-”

“Yet it is your part my people will remember.” Lexa interrupted. “This move was meant to scare our warriors. To show them that Nia controls the wilds around us.”

Clarke let out a puff of laughter as she realised what Lexa was implying. “Instead I killed a whole pack of wolves.”

“My warriors will look to you as a symbol of hope and victory, whilst Nia's will see you as a symbol of fear.” The other woman explained.

The blonde sighed, her head leaning into Lexa's hand as she cupped her face. “I thought you were angry at me.”

Lexa's thumb gently traced the swell of her cheekbone. “What happened, Clarke?” She asked earnestly,

Clarke closed her eyes at the feel of Lexa's gentle touch. “I lost control.” She admitted. “Once I started killing it, I just, seeing all that blood. I couldn't- I- I lost it.”

It was still fresh in her mind. The feel of the sword hacking its way through the wolf's neck. The smell of iron as more and more of its blood covered her. The silence around her as the Grounders watched her lose control so completely.

“I couldn't stop myself.” She almost choked.

“War changes people. It makes us do things we cannot be proud of no matter how we try to justify them.” Lexa reasoned quietly. “But you did stop, Clarke.”

“What if it happens again? What if I can't stop? What if-” Swallowing, the blonde ducked her head again. She had almost attacked Octavia. The girl had been on the ground complete defenceless, yet Clarke still had to consciously stop herself from bringing the blade down on her.

“If what?” Lexa probed.

“What if I really am the Wanheda?”

With a soft tug on her arm, Clarke let herself fall into Lexa's embrace.

“The legend of the Wanheda wasn't just built on your defeat of the Mountain, Clarke. My people saw you, they saw the way you stopped at nothing, they saw your strength.” The brunette said quietly. “Do not fear what makes you strong.”

Sniffing, the blonde buried herself deeper into the dip of Lexa's neck. “They think I have some kind of special power.”

“Maybe you do.” The other woman replied, her hands brushing across Clarke's back for a few moments before she continued. “The water's getting cold.”

Stepping back, Lexa pulled at her shirt until Clarke lifted her arms. Calloused hands glided over her skin, the other woman's long fingers lingering on the bruises that littered her now exposed flesh. It felt more intimate than anything they had shared before, and the blonde couldn't help giving herself over to the other woman completely as she let her slowly strip her.

As Lexa worked, the blondes muscles suddenly became heavy, the deep ache in her knee and wrist making themselves known once more. Clarke leant her hands on the other woman's shoulders as she squatted down to help her shed her underwear.

She didn't miss the way her lover's eyes darted over her body as she rose to her feet, or the blush that was forming across her cheeks. Clarke watched her, her breath held tight in her lungs as the woman studied her bare skin. Lexa had seen her naked before, she had touched nearly every part of her, yet Clarke had never felt so vulnerable.

Without warning, Lexa dropped to her knees, her body shuffling forwards until she was close enough to Clarke's body that the younger woman could feel her warm breath washing over her skin.

Gentle lips started brushing against the darkening bruise that was slowly spreading across her ribs. Clarke couldn't remember how it got there. She couldn't remember if it was the first wolf that knocked her to the floor, or the Wolfanda that had pinned her to the dirt, or maybe it was the Azgeda warrior that had come so close to killing her.

“I almost lost you tonight.” Lexa breathed against her skin and Clarke sighed as her face lightly nuzzled against her stomach. “I took my eyes off you for a moment and almost lost you.”

“But you didn't.”

“I've lost so much. To lose you too-” The blonde could feel cool breeze hitting the moisture on her stomach. The moisture of Lexa's tears. “I'm not sure I could bear the weight of it.”

“You would survive it.” Clarke tried to assure her, her fingers stroking through Lexa's tangled hair. “For your people, you would survive.”

She left the end of her sentence unsaid. If she did die it wouldn't be the first time Lexa would have survived such a thing.

The brunette looked up, her chin resting against Clarke's increasingly chilled skin. “Life is about more than just surviving.” The familiar words almost had her own knees buckling. “I want to ask you to stay with me tonight.” Lexa whispered softly and Clarke sighed as her face nuzzled back against her stomach

“I want you to ask.” Carefully, Clarke unwound one of the knotted braids, her fingers smoothing out the hair. Lexa seemed content to hold her whilst her hands worked away at her tangled locks.

“The water will get cold.” Clarke finally prompted as she untwisted the last braid.

Pushing herself to her feet, Lexa moved towards the bath, holding out her arm for Clarke to use as she stepped in the water. The soft scent of lavender wafted up to greet her as she slowly lowered her body. The warm water enveloped her, and Clarke groaned when her knee dropped below the water line.

“Get in with me.” She requested as Lexa sat on the side of the bath.


The blonde knew what they were risking. If anyone walked in on them... Any hope of keeping whatever was happening between them a secret would be completely gone.

“Please.” She pushed regardless.

Nodding, Lexa quickly began to strip. Her skin was already starting to blossom with bruised patches of her own and Clarke made a mental note to check the woman's ribs as she spotted a particularly dark mark marring them.

Moving up the bath, the blonde leant her body forwards to give Lexa the room she needed to slip in behind her.

They didn't have long. Every moment they spent in the water together was a moment closer to someone walking in on them-

“Relax, Clarke.” Lexa comforted from behind her. “Neo will not let anyone within this tent whilst you are bare.”

“But if he sees us-”

“He will not speak of anything he sees.”

Despite the comfort Lexa's words afforded her, and despite the whole endeavour being her idea, Clarke couldn't completely relax within the water. Apparently sensing the tension, the other woman's thumbs started kneading into the muscles on either side of her spine.

“Relax.” Lexa lightly ordered again, her hands slowly making their way up her back. “Why were you outside your tent?”

“I had a...” Clarke drifted off, before ducking her head in embarrassment. “I had another nightmare.”

The muscles in her shoulders began to loosen under Lexa's ministrations. “What was your dream?”

Clarke knew Lexa could feel the way she tensed under her finger tips. “Nothing, it was... It was stupid.”

“But it still meant something to you.” The brunette continued to push.

She still didn't want to answer, desperate to keep her subconscious fears away from the woman that had given her no reason to doubt her any more. Clearly sensing her inner turmoil, Lexa wrapped her arms around her waist, pulling her back until her body was flush against her.

Clarke sighed at the feeling of being so close and closed her eyes. If she tried hard enough she could pretend they weren't in a tent in the middle of a war camp. She could pretend they were in the comforting warmth of Polis. That they were back in her room, and Lexa had snuck in during the night to bathe with her.

“Clarke?” Lexa prompted again, and Clarke jolted slightly as she realised her exhausted body had been lulling her to sleep.

“I dreamt we were back at Mount Weather.” She answered tiredly. “Except this time you were executing me.”

Clarke felt the hum in the other woman's chest. “You worry I will betray you again.”

“No, Lexa, that's not true.” She quickly protested, trying to turn her body around, but Lexa's grip remained firm, her strong hands keeping the blonde in position.

“We are on the cusp of battle, Clarke. The last time we were here I took a deal with the enemy.” The brunette squeezed her hips again before kissing along her bare shoulder. “You worry I will do the same again.”

Letting the silence fall between them again, Clarke leant her weight back onto Lexa.

“What would you do if Nia offered peace in exchange for my life?” She finally asked, the question leaving her before she could even think of restraining it.

The woman behind her was silent for a long time, her fingers gently tapping at her skin. “I would not tell you it had been offered.”

Clarke frowned in confusion at the answer. “What?”

“If you knew, you would offer your life to her.” Lexa reasoned. “I know you, Clarke, and you know I would do the same.”

Smiling, Clarke lifted one of Lexa's hands from the water, her lips kissing the bruised knuckles. “You know, one day I'm going to dream of something nice and you'll still turn it around to your death.”

The deep rumble of laughter in the other woman's chest vibrated against her back, before she sighed heavily. “One day your dreams will subside. You just need time to heal.”

The blonde scoffed and lowered the woman's hand back into the warmth of the water. “The last time I had time to heal I almost let my pain consume me.”

“What you were doing in those woods wasn't healing.” Lexa uttered, her hands now drawing circles against Clarke stomach. “It was hiding.”

“I wanted to die-” Lexa inhaled sharply from behind her. “I even held my gun to my head a couple of times.” She confessed.

“But you didn't.”

“No.” The blonde replied, her eyes drifting shut at the memories. “Even after everything, I still wanted to live. I wanted to survive.”

“You are stronger than you think.”

“I'm not sure wanting to kill yourself makes you strong.”

“Surviving it does.” The other woman insisted, and Clarke wasn't sure how to respond. Instead she rested her head back on the other woman's shoulder as she quietly processed her words. “I would never betray you like that again, Clarke. I couldn't.”

“I know.” Clarke sighed, her hands joining with Lexa's. “I know.”

The first thing Clarke noticed as she stepped out the Commander's tent was the stillness of the camp. Tents and fires that had been destroyed in the attack were already restored, and other than the extra Grounders stationed around the camp, Clarke could hardly tell the camp had been under attack at all.

“Your people recover quickly.” She noted when Lexa stepped out beside her.

“As we always have.” The other woman replied solemnly.

Neo was still waiting for them, his gaze remaining studiously diverted from them both. “I will escort you back to you tent, Wanheda.”

Lexa nodded towards the man. “As will I.”

Both her escorts remained silent as they walked her back towards her people and Clarke let her thoughts drift.

Nia had failed. The Skaikru were mostly unharmed and their guns were still safely locked away. If Echo was right and Nia planned on arming the Ice Nation with guns, then her people could still answer them. If Echo-

Clarke stopped, her eyes widening. “Lexa?” She whispered harshly as the other woman paused beside her. “There's one person who would have known about the wolves.”

Lexa's brow furrowed for a moment until the same realisation seemed to strike her. In the chaos and panic, there was one person they had forgotten.

Echo.” The Commander growled, and Clarke didn't manage to hear the rest of her sentence as she started to weave away through the tents. The blonde winced as she jogged to keep up with her, her knee protesting the pace the Commander was setting.

There was no guard outside the tent, and Clarke knew the smear of blood covering the entrance was more than just a coincidence.

With his sword drawn, Neo pushed open the tent first before disappearing inside. The expression on his face when he reemerged told Clarke everything she needed to know.

“The prisoner is gone, Heda.” He reported.

Lexa's jaw tensed as she pushed past him. Following the woman, Clarke ducked under Neo's arm as he held the entrance ajar for her.

The first thing Clarke saw was the lifeless body of the guard that had been stationed outside the tent. Their throat had been slit, the blood staining the floor beneath them as their wide eyes stared up at nothing. Beside them the restraints that had been wrapped around Echo's hands were laying frayed and cut in two.

Whilst the camp had been in complete disarray someone had freed the Ice Nation warrior.

“How did they even know she was here?” Clarke asked as Lexa picked up the discarded ropes. They had been so careful to keep her hidden, not even the coalitions Generals knew she was being kept captive within their camp.

“They didn't.” The Commander replied. “If you were invading a camp and saw a guard outside a tent, would you not want to see what's inside?”

“Luck.” Clarke muttered as Lexa pushed herself back to her feet. “Do you think she was telling the truth?”

“If Nia truly plans on using the Maunon weapons there will be those who are against it.” Sighing, Lexa turned back towards the entrance. “Now only time will tell.”

The end of Clarke's bed dipped.

With her heart ponding in her chest, the blonde sat bolt upright. The knife she had stashed under her pillow was already in her hand, the blade ready to-

“Are you going to try and kill me again, Sky girl?” Anya asked, the amusement clear in her tired voice.

“It's morning.” Clarke noticed aloud. The early sun was peaking through the tent, filling the space with warm light. “Were you gone all night?”

The Grounder nodded, before reaching out for her arm. “Get this checked.” Anya sternly ordered. “This morning.”

There was no room for argument, and Clarke wasn't sure she would have anyway. The sting of the wound had dissipated to a dull throb as the damaged skin began knitting itself back together.

“You slept through the rest of the night.” The Grounder commented, but Clarke still felt exhausted, the tiredness making her eyes itch and her joints ache.

“It doesn't feel like I slept at all.” She replied, barely suppressing a yawn. “Did the search party leave?”

Anya hummed as she stood up again, carelessly kicking off her boots before falling face first onto her own bed. “They will not find anything.”

“There were injured wolves, they could have-”

“They were killed. We found them whilst scouting the woods.” Yawning, the General rolled onto her side. “The weak were culled.”

Swinging her leg over the side of her bed, the blonde rubbed at her knee. The pain had settled into a deep ache within the joint, with her wrist protesting in the same way.

“She meant to tire us out.” Clarke sighed.

“The Azgeda army has a half day march to the border. We've lost the advantage of being more rested.”

“Are you scared?” Clarke asked curiously as she tied the laces of her boots.

“I do not fear death. If it is my time there will be nothing I can do to stop it. To fear it would be pointless.” Anya said simply, her back cracking as she twisted her body. “And you?”

Rubbing at her wrist, the blonde smiled at her wearily. “Yeah, I am.”

“The enemy fears the Wanheda more than you fear them.” The other woman muttered as she closed her eyes. “As does half this camp.”

“Yeah, that wasn't exactly the legacy I wanted.”

Anya grunted loudly. “Do not think yourself special, Sky girl. All of this camp fears me.”

Clarke smiled at the other woman, her head shaking as she noticed her falling asleep on top of the furs.

“Big bad Anya kom Trikru, huh?” Clarke asked as she pulled the cover out from underneath Anya's feet.

“Go to the healers, Wanheda.” The woman mumbled.

She was asleep before Clarke even finished lowering the furs over her.

“Wanheda.” The healer that had treated her the night before bowed her head. “Has there been discomfort?”

“No.” The skin around each stitch was red and raw, the flesh straining against the swelling. “An infection?” Clarke asked.

The older woman shook her head as she lightly dabbed a wet cloth across the wound. “Deep.” Was all she offered before continuing her cleaning.

Apparently content with her work, the woman reached behind her for a jar of dark salve before spreading it across the bite. Clarke wasn't sure if it was really working, but the second the healer started to rub the ointment into her skin, the persistent ache seemed to lessen.

“Use this. Twice a day, when you wake, when you sleep.” She said as she pressed the jar into her hand.

“What is it?”

“Swelling, it make it less.” The woman replied vaguely whilst she wrapped a fresh gauze around her arm. “Come back if it get worse.”

With a final bow of her head, the healer quickly left her again, returning back to the patient she had been sat with when Clarke first walked in.

Over a hundred Grounders had been injured during the attack, and the blonde was relieved to see only a few of the beds were still filled. Most of the warriors lay alone, their eyes closed as they slept through the pain of their injuries.

Dropping the pot of salve into her pocket, Clarke was about to leave when she recognised the overflowing curls of the woman sat at the end of the tent.

“Luna?” She asked cautiously as she slowly approached.

“Wanheda.” Luna smiled tiredly.

Returning her smile, Clarke took a seat on the opposite side of the bed. There was a man laying on the bed between them, a cloth wrapped around his middle with a light stain of red just seeping through the material.

“Who is he?” She asked curiously as Luna went back to staring at the man.

“His name is Jahn.” The other woman said softly as her hand caressed his face. “The man I have come to love.”

“The wolves?”

Luna nodded. “We were separated during the chaos. After the meeting, when I returned to my tent...” Tears welled up in the woman's eyes. “I came straight here.”

She had been there all night, Clarke realised. She could see it in the dark circles under her eyes and the pale sheen to her skin.

“You are angry with me.” Luna guessed as her tired eyes looked away from the man.

“You were going to take a deal with Nia. After everything she's done.” Clarke stated truthfully. “After what she did to my people.”

“Lexa has told you of our conclave?”

Clarke wasn't sure what the story of the conclave had to do with trying to take Nia's deal, but she nodded regardless. “I know you ran away from it.”

“The Commander we bowed to left instruction of who we were to fight. Sibling, lovers, friends. Everything he saw as weakness. I ran after I had to kill my brother. I've been branded a coward since.” Luna admitted bitterly. “At first I ran because I didn't know who the new Heda was, but after that...” Luna gently twisted her fingers in the man's tangled curls. “I hated myself for what I'd done. It was Jahn that found me, convinced my to return home to the Floukru and take my place as their leader. I trusted him from the moment I saw him.”

Frowning, Clarke couldn't help creasing her brow as she continued to listen.

“He told me it was a mistake to trust Nia. We'd heard stories of what she had done, I knew what she'd done to the Skaikru, but I still-” Jahn stirred slightly, his head pushing up into Luna's hand before he stilled again. “I still thought there was hope.” Sighing heavily, the other woman pulled her hand away from him. “He should never have been here to begin with. I should have listened to him.”

“What did Nia promise you?” Clarke prompted again when the woman lapsed into silence.

“That she would stop the war, hand herself to me for her crimes against your people.” Luna answered. “The price was Ontari becoming Heda.”

“She never would have gone with you.”

“War should never be the answer though.” Luna sighed exasperatedly. “This was just the first attack. Hundreds more will die. The clans just voted to accept the end of jus drein jus daun, yet here they are, ready to kill their way to peace.”

The irony of the news hadn't been lost on Clarke either. It was Lexa sparing Nia's life that had sparked the vote to begin with. Yet here they were, days after the vote had passed, about to ride into battle to kill her.

“Sometimes you have to fight, sometimes you have to kill because don't have a choice.” Clarke insisted.

“There's always a choice, Clarke. No one else should have to die in a war that's between Lexa and Nia alone.”

Clarke frowned as she studied the other woman. She understood the want for peace, but to want it so blindly.

“So you would be willing to let the collation fall into the hands of the Azgeda? That's not peace.” She stressed.

“Perhaps. But it's better than war.” Tired brown eyes looked up at her again. “It is not the warriors of war that take refuge with the Floukru. It's the children they leave behind. The children who ask me for their mother and father, but will never see them again because they've died fighting in a war that never had to happen.”

“Lexa took a deal with the Maunon for peace. She abandoned my people in the Mountain and walked away from a war of revenge that her people wanted. She doesn't want this.” Clarke protested. “Do you really think if there was another way to keep her people safe she wouldn't take it?”

“There's always another way...” Luna muttered in response. “We just haven't seen it yet.”

“Lexa would have seen it.”

Jahn groaned in pain, a deep rumble of indistinguishable Trigedasleng falling from his lips.

“You should go, Wanheda.”

The dismissal was clear and despite herself, Clarke rolled her eyes.

“It wasn't the Commander who beheaded two hundred warriors to make a point, who released a pack of wolves into a sleeping camp.” The blonde recounted. “Maybe it's not Lexa you should have been convincing to resolve this peacefully.”

“How's your arm?” Lexa asked, her eyes darting to the barely visible bandage that was poking out from under her sleeve.

“Hurts.” Clarke smiled, and she could see the mirth dancing in the other woman's eyes at the familiar response.

Whilst she had been within the healers tent, the camp had begun its preparations. Warriors from all the clans were rushing between tents as they readied themselves.

“I spoke to Luna.” Clarke informed the woman beside her as they watched Magnus applying the Rock Lines symbol to the bare chests of his warriors. “She's still with Jahn.”

“How is he?”

“Sleeping.” Or at least, Clarke hoped he still was. The blood stain across his bandage stretched across the width of his torso and if it was a big as it seemed... Clarke could only imagine the pain he must have been in.

“She still thinks this can be resolved without fighting.” She continued, trying to shake the thought of Jahn laying in a pool of his own blood from her mind.

Lexa sighed loudly. “The time for talking is long passed. Are your people ready?”

“Indra was running them through some more drills when I left them. They were nervous.” Clarke admitted.

“It's their first battle, I would expect nothing less.”

“Some of them were with us outside the Mountain.”

“A battle which they never fought.” Lexa pointed out, her hands tucking themselves behind her back as she continued to survey the encampment.

“What about the search party? Did they find anything?” She questioned.

Lexa shook her head, a frown appearing on her face as she seemed to spot something in the trees that Clarke couldn't see. “Nothing. They retreated without a trace.” She replied distractedly.

“Do you think we're ready?” The blonde asked as she tried to find what Lexa was staring at so intently.

In the distance, just beyond the outskirts of the camp, Clarke finally spotted him. Almost tripping over himself, a Grounder was covering the ground between them quickly. “I don't think we have a choice any more.”

“Heda!” He called, his voice still faint as her darted through the tents.

Without saying another word, Lexa was sprinting towards him with Clarke struggling to keep pace behind her. Every move made her leg protest painfully, but the blonde knew the news the man had would be too important to miss.

What is it?” The Commander asked breathlessly as they all skidded to a halt in front of each other.

The Ice Nation-” He panted, his eyes blown wide and brow soaked through with sweat. “They are- Moving into position-

Sound the horn!” The Commander swiftly ordered before turning on her heel and back the way they had come. “Wanheda, with me.”

Ignoring the guards outside her tent, Lexa pushed straight inside, not even waiting for Clarke as she started pulling on her gauntlets. The deep hum of horns started to echo around them, the message of war spreading throughout the camp.

“The pair on the table are for you.” The other woman said, her hands pulling the metal over her arms.

Clarke felt her brow creasing. After their conversation the night before she had half expected Lexa to pull her into her tent and tell her not to go. “You're letting me go with you?”

“Would you stay if I told you to? If I ordered you to?” The brunette questioned, her eyes already wild.


“Then I will not waste my time telling you otherwise.” The Commander snapped harshly. Clarke knew her tone had nothing to do with her and everything to do with the now impending battle.

Her arm smarted uncomfortably as she pulled the guard past her wrist. By the time she had wriggled them on, Lexa was already in front of her, black war paint fresh on her face.

“Look up.” Lexa ordered.

She worked quietly, dipping the sponge into a pot of red paint before dragging it across Clarke's face. Despite the adrenaline that was starting to make her heart pound and palms sweat, Clarke let the other woman work in silence.

“Here.” Lexa handed her the small mirror she had used to apply her own warpaint and Clarke had to stifle a gasp.

A band of red covered both her eyes, the deep maroon standing out against her pale skin. At the edge of her face a long crescent on either side curved around her brow and followed the rise of her cheekbones.

“I asked Yein for the design before I left Polis.” Lexa explained, the earlier edge gone from her tone. “The blood of the Wanheda.” She practically whispered.

“And the tears of the Heda.” Clarke muttered quietly, her finger tips tracing the black lines that spilled down her lovers face. “Lexa- I- I-” The magnitude of what was swelling in her chest had the words catching in her throat.

She had only admitted it to herself once. Just once. In the warmth of Lexa's bed, as the woman had pushed her into her second release, she had thought it. She had felt it.

If she was honest, she had felt it every moment since.

Gentle thumbs brushed over her cheekbones as Lexa pulled her in, her lips meeting hers in the softest of kisses. They moved together, their lips parting for only the briefest of moments before Clarke was pushing into her again.

She couldn't say it. Not yet , but she wanted Lexa to feel it. She wanted her to know.

Outside the tent Clarke could hear the coalitions warriors scrambling to be ready for their Commander, the noise forcing her to pull away.

“I know.” The other woman whispered, her forehead resting against. “I know.”

Sighing, Lexa ducked her head forwards once more to place another kiss against her lips. “I want to ask you to stay here, to stay safe.”

“But you won't.”

Clarke felt the gentle shake of Lexa's head against hers. “No. I won't. We have to go.”

Stepping away, Lexa straightened her coat. “Ride at the front of the line with me.” She requested.

“For you or your people?” Clarke asked, her head tilting curiously.


The second the Commander stepped outside the tent, her Generals surrounded her.

Are your warrior's ready?” She asked immediately.

The archers are collecting their arrows, then we will be ready, Heda.” The Podakru's General answered.

Clarke knew some of the arrows had been kept away from the camp, their heads wrapped in cloth and soaking in the mud from a lake in the centre of the Podakru territory. She had never seen it in action, but according to Lexa the mud burnt hotter and longer than anything else on the ground.

Good. Have the horses brought around.” The Commander ordered.

Magnus was roaring instructions at his warriors, his neck bulging as he barked at them to move faster. Unlike the other clans, each Boudalan warrior had a war hammer strapped to their wrist, the metal crudely crafted to be as heavy and effective as possible.

It struck her suddenly who had been missing from the chaos. Nearly all the clans were gathered around them, but there was one clan that was hardly there at all. There was one woman in particular that was missing.


The Trikru leader was meant to be gathering her army between Polis and the shallow falls, except Rhea was nowhere in sight. If Magnus was amongst his warriors, then why would Rhea not be among hers.

“Lexa,” Clarke hissed as she struggled to keep up with the other woman. “Where are the shallow falls?”

The Commander snapped her head to the side, smirking slightly. “North of Polis,” she revealed. “Exactly where Nia would not expect my mother to be.”

The energy of the army was almost suffocating.

Clarke rode at the front of the line, just as Lexa had asked, her horse walking in step with the Commander's stallion. Out the corner of her eye she could see Anya's horse as the woman rode behind them in the first line of warriors.

She had barely had the chance to speak to Anya before they began their march. When Lexa had led them to the horses, the General had been waiting for them, her back straight and arms crossed behind her back. It had surprised Clarke when she had offered her hands to help boost her up.

Remember their fear, Wanheda.” She had whispered to her before leaving to mount her own horse.

Behind her, Clarke could hear Indra as she spoke to Octavia. The older woman would be leading the Skaikru away from the battle. Under the guise of the charge, they would head to the tree covered ridge at the side of the battlefield to take out the enemy from a far.

It was where the General's of the coalition expected Nia to send her Maunon weapon bearing warriors too. Despite what Clarke had selfishly hoped, she knew her people were going to be far more involved than she had wanted them to be. For now they were at the back of the march with the Rover slowly rolling along beside them.

Only the scouts went ahead of them, mere flashes between the trees as they ran through the forest.

Clarke could already hear the deep beat of the Azgeda's war drums, the sound filling the woods around them. The deep pounding seemed to set the pace of her heart and Clarke had to catch herself each time as her breathing became unsteady.

“Do not be nervous, Wanheda.” The Commander said from beside her, whilst her eyes remained trained on the path in front of them. “All will work out as it is meant to.”

Clarke couldn't reply, her tongue too thick with uncertainty.

They had been over the different scenarios. There seemed to be a plan for everything. Yet, Clarke's mind still raced with the what ifs.

The bright sun had Clarke blinking as the trees disappeared and gave way to the thickly grassed land. The hills would be at both their backs, the ground in the centre dipping gently on all sides.

The Azgeda army was already there below them. Right where the Commander had hoped they would be. Over a thousand warriors stood together in a thick square block of bodies.

The front lines were made up of horses, their heads twisting and shacking against the spiked bridles. The wolves were there too, snarling and jerking against the muzzles their handlers were desperately pulling on.

Then there was Nia. In the centre of her army, her face and shoulders covered with spiked mail, she sat high upon a jet black horse, its face contorted with radiation. Clarke recognised the two creatures at her side. Two of the Wolfanda's she had beheaded the night before were pawing at their restraints, three warriors on each trying to hold them back.

The Azgeda unit stood together. Trained. Precise. Unwavering.

Behind her, Clarke could hear the noise of their own army. Hundreds of warriors spreading across the crest of the hill as they spilled out of the forest.

Still the beating of the drums continued.

It felt like she was back outside Mount Weather, the anticipation of what was about to happen threatening to crush her. Throwing her leg over her horse, Clarke dismounted, handing her horse to Neo as he replaced her.

The pounding beat sped up, the deep sound threatening to drown out the noise of their army completely.

The Commander's horse reared as she pushed it in front of them all.

They will say we cannot beat them!” She cried, the whole of her army staring up at her as her voice rose above the drums. “They will say that they will crush us and everything we stand for!” The woman's lip snarled as she turned her horse back down the line. “But I say they are wrong!!

The men and women around her roared, the sound almost deafening.

This battle will test the strongest warrior. It will make you bleed. It will make you hurt, but we will not falter! We will not fall! And by this night we will have victory!

The sound of war horns billowed out from either side of their line. Clarke felt her stomach drop at the sight of the Azgeda army advancing on them, the deep pounding of their war drums matching their march.

“So it begins.” Indra muttered from beside her, her sword twirling once in her hand.

Let us show them what a true warrior is made of!” The Commander shouted to them.

“HEDA!” The crowd chanted as one.

Let us show them the true meaning of fear!


Let us show them that we will not be defeated!


First round! FIRE!

Indra pushed down on Clarke's back and she heard the whooshing of arrows as they fired over head.

Second line! FIRE!”

Another barrage flew above her and Clarke could smell the hot burning of the Podakru's weapons. Cries echoed out from across the field before the sound of horses screeching joined them in a chorus of noise as the arrows met their targets.

Hold! I said HOLD!” The Commander cried out, suddenly the cries that were echoing out across the field were happening all around her.

Arrows pummelled the earth next to her, and when Clarke looked up she realised one of the warriors behind her had placed a shield above her head.

Take formation!

The shield was suddenly gone and Indra pulled her backwards as the warriors around her started to stretch out in front of her. The deep block thinning out and she could hear the shouts of the enemies warriors coming closer-


Chapter Text


The Commander's order was quickly overpowered by the sound of the coalitions army hurtling towards their enemy. The shouts of the men and women echoed around the field, their bloody cries of Trigedasleng weaving together into a wall of noise.

Lexa and Anya both held back, their horses pawing at the ground as the two women atop them intently watched the armies coming together.

Clarke knew the plan. The whole block of the coalition army would try to wrap itself around as much of the Azgeda's forces as it could. The Skaikru and Podakru would provide the second layer, protecting the coalition from any attack on their own flank and stopping the back of Nia's army from breaking out again.

The heavy crash of metal burst from the battlefield and Clarke winced. The two armies had clashed together and already she could hear the cries of the wounded and the howls of the wolves as they dove into the coalitions ranks.

“Magnus is heading straight for the wolves.” Anya commented whilst her dark eyes darted over the unfolding battle in front of them.

“Good. Indra, take the Skaikru...” The Commander began, but Clarke couldn't help turning her head to the woods behind them. Just on the cusp of her hearing she was sure she could hear the rhythmic thudding of hooves.

“Wanheda?” Indra prompted, her body closer than the blonde remembered. “What is-” It wasn't her imagination. The General stopped abruptly, her back straightening as she seemed to pick up on the same sound Clarke was hearing.

Fear gripped her in an instant. The heavy pounding of galloping was suddenly approaching at a horrifying speed. The Commander had left scouts in the forest to protect their backs, if they had already fallen-

Clarke quickly pulled out her gun and pointed it towards the tree line. There was only one horse, but if the blonde had learnt anything about Nia in the past few days, it was that the former Ice Queen had a shocking ability to catch them completely off guard with her tactics.

The rest of the Skaikru followed her lead, all of them pointing their weapons towards the woods as they prepared to confront the attack Nia had sent against their rear.

It was no attack though.

“Hold you fire!” Clarke quickly called, pushing down the barrel of the gun closest to her.

It was Luna.

The leader of the Floukru had burst from the darkness of the forest, her face twisted with anger as she pushed her horse forwards.

“Luna?” Lexa frowned, watching the woman come barrelling towards them.

Luna didn't stop though, and Clarke gasped in realisation. She wasn't going to stop because she wasn't there for them, her eyes hadn't even glanced at their way, the angry orbs had remained fixed on the battle she was charging straight towards.

A moment later, the leader of the Floukru was flying straight past them.

“LUNA!” The Commander cried again.

Clarke knew what Lexa was about to do. She knew from the way the brunette's eyes searched for hers. From the way a sad smile pulled at her lips. With a pull of the reigns and a squeeze of her legs, the Commander's horse was turning itself in the same direction Luna was heading.

“No-” Clarke tried to protest, but it was too late. In the blink of an eye, Lexa was heading straight towards the clashing armies, her horse sending clumps of grass into the air as it followed after her fellow nightblood.

“Indra!” Anya suddenly called. “Take Clarke and the Skaikru to the left flank!” She hastily ordered before pulling her horse around to the remaining Podakru General. “El, take the archers to the right.”

Brown eyes met with Clarke's for the briefest of moments before Anya too was pushing her horse towards the battle below them.

Desperately, Clarke tried to push past Indra, but the General was quickly gripping onto her arms to stop her. They were meant to hold back. Lexa and Anya were meant to hold back and command the battle, they were never meant to throwing themselves into the fray so early. “This wasn't the plan, they're not-”

“Plans change in battle,” Indra quickly bit back, her dark eyes leaving no room for the blonde to argue. “We leave. Now.”

The older woman dropped her hands away and began barking orders at the guards behind her. It had been minutes and already their plan had crushed in on itself because of Luna.

“Clarke, we have to go.” Octavia quietly prompted, but the blonde continued to hold back. In the mass of bodies that were fighting to retain the Azgeda forces, Lexa's small frame was lost. Even Anya had disappeared beyond the wall of coalition warriors.

“I can't-” Clarke began, her search becoming frantic.

Octavia was refusing to relent though, her small hands fiercely gripping onto the blonde's still injured arm. “You have to. If we don't stop the shooters they're going to start picking off the Grounders.”

“Chancellor?” Clarke twisted her head at the still unfamiliar title and started at the sight behind her.

All the guards were watching her, waiting for her. They were waiting for their Chancellor to tell them what to do.

Clarke glanced back at the battle behind her one final time. Her heart was begging her to go running in after Lexa and help her bring Luna back. It was begging her to be selfish and go to the Commander's side.

Her head knew Octavia was right though.

Any second now Nia's gunman were going to start mowing down the coalitions forces and it was up to them to stop it. She had a duty to her people. As their leader. As their Chancellor.

“Okay.” She quietly muttered to Octavia before gently removing the girl's grip.

Looking at the men and women in front of her, Clarke tried to swallow back the worry for Anya and Lexa that was threatening to drown her. She needed to be their leader. She couldn't afford to be distracted when they needed her most.

“Remember your training.” The blonde ordered them. “Follow Indra as if she was your Chancellor. If she says move, you move. If she says stop, you stop.” She quickly finished, wanting to keep her speech as short as possible.

The guards in front of her all let out noises of agreement and Indra nodded her own acknowledgement.

“Take formation!” The General shouted and instantly the guards split into the groups Indra had been drilling them in. “Remember your enemy is ill trained in the use of your weapons. Shoot them before they shoot you.”

Casting her eyes over the group a final time, Indra nodded. “Go!”

Clarke jogged behind them, watching as one of the guards fell back until he was beside her.

“Chancellor, I'm meant to stay with you.” He announced once she had pulled level.

Clarke remembered the man's face from the pile of photo's Kane had shown her when they were selecting the guards to go with her. His name was Harry. Farm Station. A vocal Pike supporter.

“Are we going to have a problem?” She asked him with only the briefest of glances.

“No. The Grounder's are...” Harry paused for a moment, his breath panting as he searched for the right word. “They're different from how Pike said they would be.”

It was the second time a member of Pike's group had surprised her. Hannah was already willing to entrust her son to Indra, her sworn enemy, and now another was swaying away from Pike's rhetoric. Both of them had been deep in Pike's council and yet their minds were changing.

“What happened to you was wrong and I'll do everything I can to make sure the Ice Queen pays for it.” She assured him.

“Thank you, I was-” For a moment, Clarke thought he was struggling to find the right word again. “I was wrong about you, we all were.” She understood then, it was pride the man was struggling with. “You are a good leader, Wanheda.” He finished awkwardly.

“I- Thank you.” Clarke responded. The conversation had been an unexpected one. By bringing some of Pike's supporters with her, she had only hoped to stop the man from launching a coup whilst she was away.

As the trees of the woods began to surround them, Clarke let silence fall between them. The battle was raging beside them, the sounds of fighting penetrating into the shallow depths of the woods.

The noises only added to her nerves.

Every shadow she saw looked like the barrel of gun. Every movement looked like the darting form of an Azgeda warrior. She was sure she could feel the eyes of the unseen enemy crawling over her skin. That the Azgeda were hidden in the trees around them. That they were waiting for them to fall into their trap.

“Indra!” A voice shouted from up ahead and without looking to Harry, Clarke increased her pace.

The blonde quickly sped past the rest of the guards and the sight that greeter her almost had her stumbling backwards.

Tens of Azgeda warriors lay dead in the clearing in front of them, their throats slit from ear to ear. Beside them were their discarded bows and swords, all of them dropped right next to their bodies as they fell.

There had been no battle. No bloody fight that had ended in defeat for the Azgeda.

It had been an execution.

There was something missing though and Clarke felt her brow creasing as she looked at each body. “Where are the guns?”

“They are not here.” A voice called from the other side of the clearing.

The guards on either side of her raised their guns in an instant. Azgeda warriors were stepping out from behind the trees in front of them, their hands held up in surrender.

“Wait!” Clarke quickly called as she recognised the woman that was leading the group. “Echo?”

“Wanheda.” The woman simply replied and before Clarke could question what she was doing there, all of the approaching warriors dropped to their knees in complete synchronicity.

“What the hell is this?” The blonde asked in utter confusion.

A betrayal.” Indra hissed quietly.

We swear allegiance to Clarke kom Skaikru, slayer of the Wolfanda, destroyer of the Mountain and Commander of Death.” The Azgeda warrior's announced as one.

Lowering a hand, each warrior reached down to their belts to pull out a dagger. Clarke knew what was coming, but she still flinched when they all cut across their open palm. “In blood we bind it.”

If we cannot beat death itself, we will join it in battle.” Echo declared and the Azgeda warriors in front of them slammed their bloody fists into their own chests.

“Wanheda!” They all shouted in tandem.

Clarke stared at them in complete disbelief, her head spinning at what she had just witnessed. At least thirty Azgeda warriors had just sworn their allegiance to the Wanheda. To her.

Echo was the only one to push herself back to her feet. The rest of her group remained stuck in position on the floor, their hands leaking blood across their fur covered coats. “You are in the wrong place.” She muttered once she was close enough.

“What?” Clarke questioned, her eyes blinking heavily as she tried to process everything that was happening.

“Speak, girl.” Indra pushed. Her hand was still flexing on the hilt of her sword and Clarke didn't doubt for a second that the General wouldn't cut Echo down where she stood if she didn't like the woman's answer.

“Nia plans to attack Polis with the weapons of the Maunon.” The woman revealed, her eyes never leaving Clarke's. “This battle is a distraction.”

The General scoffed. “And you expect us to take the word of the enemy?”

“Do you hear any gunfire?” Echo immediately countered.

Indra was about to reply, her lip already snarling dangerously, but Clarke quickly cut across her. “No, no what if she's right?”

“You cannot trust her.” The older woman implored.

“There's no gunfire. There's no reason for Nia to not be trying to shoot us right now.” Creasing her brow even further, Clarke turned back to Echo. “Is she even here?”


If the battle truly was a distraction, hemming the Ice Nation in would achieve nothing. Not if the end result was the death of every nightblood in Polis. She needed to tell Lexa. She needed to get to her and drag her to Polis. Rhea's army might have been close to the capitol, but Clarke had no doubt in her mind that none of the Trikru leader's strategies accounted for the guns Nia would be attacking them with.

“We need to get to Polis.” Clarke bit at her lip. “Carry on, stop Nia's army breaking out.”

“Wanheda-” Indra tried to protest.

“Echo, come with me.” The blonde interrupted, the urgency of the situation pressing her to move as quickly as she could.

Yes, Wanheda.” Echo replied respectfully. “We follow, Wanheda!” She called behind her, prompting the rest of the Azgeda warrior's to stand again.

Clarke!” Indra continued protest. “This was not the plan.”

Plans change in battle.” Clarke replied, repeating back the other woman's words.

The General was fuming. “Octavia, Lincoln, go with her. Make sure she comes back alive.” She growled pointedly in Echo's direction.

Lincoln didn't reply, his large muscular presence beside her threat enough for Echo to nod warily.

“Then let us go.” Echo urged.

“This would be the perfect trap.” Lincoln muttered to her once there was enough distance between them and Echo. “Nia would not think twice of sacrificing her own warriors if it meant taking you captive.”

The run back to the tree line felt longer than it had a few moment ago. “You think that's what this is?” Clarke questioned.

The man was quiet for a few moment, his jaw flexing as he thought over his answer. It wasn't until they finally broke through into the field that he finally replied. “I'm not sure even Nia would risk breaking a blood oath.”

The Grounder's that Lexa had left at the back of the army were still there, their backs to the battle as they surveyed the woods that were behind them. At the sight of the suddenly approaching Azgeda warriors all of them prepared to launch an attack.

Wait!” Clarke called as loud as she could. The coalition warriors looked at her in complete confusion, but lowered their weapons regardless. I need your horse.” She panted in Trigedasleng as they approached the closest rider.

Yes, Wanheda.

The young rider quickly dismounted, his dark green eyes looking questioningly at the mass of Azgeda soldiers that were suddenly surrounding him.

“Clarke, what the hell are you doing?” Octavia hissed at her, while Lincoln boosted her up onto the saddle.

“Clarke.” Lincoln said, and as usual it was his eyes that did the majority of the speaking for him.

“I need to get to Lexa.”

“You can't be serious. Clarke there is literally a whole army between you.” Octavia fretted.

“Half an army.”

Clarke searched the battlefield from the vantage of the horse.

Arrows were flying in from the right flank, the Podakru clearly finding their positions in the woods to attack Nia's army. Her own people were attacking from the left, the familiar popping of bullets carrying across the field a few moments after a wolf collapsed to the ground.

The Commander's plan was working. Nia's army was slowly being beaten backwards as the coalitions army worked it's way around the outside, herding them into a tighter and tighter formation.

It's the Wanheda!” Clarke heard called from the army bellow as she continued to search for Luna or any trace of the Commander and Anya in their attempt to catch up with her.

The Wolfanda's were both loose within the Azgeda's army, the snarling beasts attacking everything that moved in front of them, regardless of their allegiance.

It took a few more moments of straining for the blonde to finally spot them. The relief that rushed through her had her clutching her chest. They were still alive. Somewhere along the way their horses had been abandoned, either killed or released as they had fought their way into the thick of the Azgeda army.

Using a staff, Luna was battling off the Azgeda warrior's that were attacking her. As brutal as each strike of the wood was, Clarke knew the blows wouldn't be fatal. Lexa and Anya were taking less of a chance. With their backs to each other the pair were slowly making their way through the tightly knit group of Grounder's that were attacking them from all sides, their blades slicing them down. There were other coalition warriors amongst them, struggling through to protect their Heda whilst they worked closer and closer to the woman they thought was Nia.

“Nia” herself was still sat upon her horse, but she was doing nothing to command the army around her. The spiked mail over her face hid her true identity, but for Clarke, her inaction was enough to confirm what Echo had already told her.

Nia wasn't there.

“We're heading in.” Clarke instructed, looking down to see Echo nodding at her.

As you wish, Wanheda.” She replied, drawing her sword out ready.

She didn't have time to feel nervous. She didn't have time to listen to Octavia's protests. She most definitely didn't have time to contemplate how utterly foolish it was for her to ride into the enemies army.

Throwing her weight forwards, Clarke forced the horse towards the battle. She could see Echo and her fellow warriors falling behind as she quickly accelerated ahead.

The wind whipping at her face quickly blurred away the sounds around her. A horn blowing was the only thing Clarke heard, and she watched Magnus pull two of his warriors out of her path in response to it.

WANHEDA!” The coalition warriors cried as her horse piled into the Azgeda warriors.

The force of the animal hitting the braced wall of warriors made Clarke jaw shudder and her arm twitch with pain, but she held on. With its breaths heavy the horse pushed onwards, the weapons of the enemy being held back by the coalition warriors that had pushed their way in beside her.

“Wanheda!” Magnus cried above the noise, his strong hand gripping onto her as he pulled at her to get her down from the horse and into his protection.

“I need to get to the Commander!”

With a bellow, the war hammer in the man's hand collided with the jaw of an Azgeda soldier, the hit sending him crashing to the ground.

Hold the line!” Magnus shouted to his men, and with his hand back around the blonde's arm, he dragged her deeper into the fray.

Looking behind her, Clarke watched her horse disappear back behind the wall of coalition warriors, the gap she had made quickly closing. Echo and her followers were already inside and pushing past the confused faces of the Azgeda warriors.

The confusion was quickly melting into anger though.

“We need to move. Now.” Echo hissed as Magnus fought off another warrior.


Fights were suddenly erupting all around her as the Azgeda started piling in on Echo and the warriors that had joined her in Clarke's charge at the army.

Magnus was the next to fall. Three warriors jumped onto the man's back, dragging him to the ground under their collective weight. Unable to control his thrashing body, their weapons quickly fell to the ground. The large man crushed one them them out cold against the dirt in his struggled attempt to push himself to his knees.

Unnoticed amongst the taller men and women around her, Clarke struggled to stay upright. She tried to get her bearings, her eyes searching for the right direction to run in. Without Magnus's overwhelming presence she was vulnerable though, and she almost tripped over a sword as a warrior began advancing towards her.

It was when he managed to see her fully that he stopped short, his face visibly paling.

Wanheda!” He cried in warning. Desperately the panicked man tried to get away from her, not daring to look away even as he collided with the warriors behind him.

Clarke reached down to pick up the discarded blade that was at her feet. She knew if he attacked she wouldn’t stand a chance. There was little she could do against a trained warrior.

But that didn’t mean she couldn’t pretend.

With a confidence she was barely feeling, Clarke pointed the sword towards him.


It was like a pin had been dropped in the quietest of rooms.

The skirmishes around them ceased as all eyes fell to her. As they realised who it was standing amongst them. As they realised that Wanheda, death herself, was there with them.

Clarke tried to imagine what they were seeing. She tried to imagine what she looked like with her matted her and warpaint covered face.

She imagined the fear they must be feeling.

Get back!” Magnus shouted as his large frame finally staggered upright. Blood was dripping down his chin from the split lip he had gaining during his struggle with the Azgeda. “NOW!”

At the man's command, the Azgeda in front of her parted. There was fear set deep in their eyes, sweat dripping from the foreheads that had nothing to do with the rising heat of the day.

My warriors will look to you as a symbol of hope and victory, whilst Nia's will see you as a symbol of fear.”

The difference between the two armies was astounding. Where the warriors of the coalition had been in complete awe of her, the warriors of Ice Nation were outright terrified. Clarke took a step forwards and dropped the sword back to the ground. She could almost hear the collective inhale of the Ice Nation's army at her movement.

Looking past the men and women in front of her, the blonde could see the woman that was pretending to be Nia still sitting upon her stead. The horse was nervously shaking its head, its ears flicking back and forth as it tried to fight against its riders reins and back away from what was happening in front of it.

With her destination in sight, Clarke walked through the slowly parting army.

This ends now!” She heard Luna cry and suddenly the woman upon the horse was being pulled to the ground.

Clarke quickened her pace.

The coalition warriors she had spotted making their way through the army had already formed a ring around the scene in front of her.

“Wanheda?!” One of the warriors asked as he stumbled out of her way.

Let them through!” Magnus's voice barked from behind her and Clarke knew the man was referring to the men and women that had proclaimed their allegiance to Wanheda.

The woman Luna had pinned to the dirt was struggling fruitlessly to get out of her grasp. “Order your army to stand down!” The furious Floukru leader ordered.

“That's not Nia!” Clarke quickly called. The pushing on the ring of warriors seemed stop instantly and the blonde could hear the all to familiar mutterings of her name.

“Clarke?” Anya and Lexa both asked with disbelief. There was blood streamed across both their faces, both of their chests rising with heaving breaths as they stared at her.

“It's not her.” She reaffirmed.

Looking down at the woman in her grasp, Luna quickly pulled off the mask that was covering her face. A smile broke out across the unfamiliar woman's face as she started laughing, her arm clenching across her stomach. Her tussled blonde hair was the only point of familiarity between the mystery woman and Nia.

You lose, Heda!” The manic woman snickered. Her dazed eyes rolling into the back of her head as she continued wheezing out her laughter. “You lose!”

Luna's fist cracked into the imposters jaw, sending her sprawling back onto the dirt. “Where is your Queen?!”

“Polis. She's in Polis.” Clarke answered.

“She plans to attack the city?” Anya wondered aloud, her eyes still darting over the army that was surrounding them.

“No.” The Commander replied. “Polis isn't the target.”

The Floukru leader seemed to be following Lexa's thoughts, her mouth falling open in horror. “She tried to have me killed after you left...”

“The nightbloods are the target.” Lexa finished for her. “She knew if she offered a plea, you would leave the safety of your home.”

Luna pushed herself to her feet. “And if she destroys the line of nightbloods...”

“Ontari will be the only choice for Heda.” The Commander reasoned. “Rhea is already in Polis, the Trikru army and guards of Polis will protect the city.”

“They've taken the guns to Polis.” Clarke revealed and all eyes snapped to her once again.

The worry that flashed across Lexa's face was gone in a instant. “It will not the first time Rhea has faced the weapons of the Maunon. Nia forgets, the Trikru were always the Mountain's closest prey.” Clarke knew that despite the woman's calm answer, the fear of Nia's weapons running rampant in the city would be swirling through her too.

Three sharp horn blows sounded from behind them and Clarke listened as three more answered it's call from in front of them.

“The army is surrounded.” The Commander nodded. “We need to leave for Polis. Now.”

“I see you found Echo.” Lexa noted as the hurried up the incline in front of them.

“She found us.” Clarke replied, and she could see the brunette looking at her questioningly. “They killed the Ice Nation warriors that were waiting for us in the woods.”

“And they swore allegiance to you?” She asked breathlessly.


“In blood?”

“Yeah.” The blonde responded distractedly as she looked back on the field behind them. “They're not even trying to fight back.” She noted.

“They are surrounded, to fight would mean death.” Lexa explained. “They sense their Queen's defeat.”

Octavia and Lincoln were exactly where Clarke had left them, arguing quietly as they stood away from the rest of the Grounder's.

“Will you stay here if I ask you to?” Lexa asked her when they stopped, watching as the Grounder's hurriedly prepared their horses.

“No.” Clarke replied, smiling at the other woman.

“Very well.” Straightening her shoulders, Lexa became terse again. “Anya, Octavia. You are coming with us.”

“Me?” Octavia asked, the confusion clear in her tone.

“You know how to use the weapons of the Maunon and our trained in our ways, yes?” The Commander questioned stonily.

“What about Lincoln?” The younger woman pressed.

The Commander looked to the ever stoic man. The last time they had interacted had been when his Heda had visited Arkadia and told him he was banished from his clan. Lincoln still bowed his head respectfully though. “I can help, Heda.” He assured her.

“Very well.” She relented before turning to Luna.

The Floukru leader was standing silently beside them, her hair tangled far worse than Clarke's and the dark circles under her eyes more prominent than ever.

“Magnus is handling the army. Go back to camp.” The Commander ordered shortly and the other woman nodded at the instruction, not even putting up the slightest bit of resistance.

Clarke could tell that Lexa was still quietly seething at the woman. All their plans had come completely unravelled because of her attempt to end the war. Her actions had been too late and the danger it put Lexa and Anya in too great.

They could have been half way to Polis already. Instead they had spent precious moments and resources battling through half an army to stop a woman that wasn't even there.

“Wanheda?” Echo asked from beside her.

“Gather the horses, you can and follow us.” The Commander instructed, but Echo didn't acknowledge her instruction. Instead, the warriors eyes remained trained on Clarke until the blonde nodded subtly.

As you wish, Wanheda.

Clarke's brow creased. Echo hadn't followed the word of her Heda. The Azgeda warrior had waited for her, for Wanheda to give her an order.

Wanheda?” Lincoln mumbled.

The man was stood behind a new horse for her.

“Thanks.” She replied, accepting his help to boost her onto the animals back.

“You trust Echo to follow us?” Clarke asked Lexa in surprise as she mounted her own steed.

“An allegiance sworn in blood is not easily broken.”

People had sworn allegiance to her and if Clarke was completely honest, she didn't understand exactly what that meant. She couldn't imagine the Ice Nation would take Echo and her co-conspirators back, not after betraying them in the middle of a war.

“So.” Octavia said, breaking the quiet around them. “What's the plan? Do you even have one?”

“Octavia-” Lincoln begun, his voice low with warning.

“Nia will know Polis has not been left undefended,” Lexa answered regardless. “The Polis guard are the best warriors of the coalition.”

“Okay, so where do we enter?” Octavia pushed whilst she fidgeted in her seat, her hand flexing on the reigns of her horse in anticipation.

Lexa was quiet for a moment as she thought over the question. “We take the main path.”

“The most direct route to the tower.” Anya noted before she too was mounting her horse.

Clarke studied Lexa's profile. “You really think that's where Nia will be?”

The Commander nodded sharply without looking at her. “If Rhea hasn't killed her already.”

It struck Clarke once more at how disassociated the Commander could be from her own flesh and blood. Rhea was about to be hit by Nia and her gun wielding warriors, there was every chance her army would be completely overpowered by them.

“How did you know?” The blonde asked, and Lexa's head tilted as she waited for her to elaborate. “How did you know Nia would attack Polis? How did you know to send Rhea there?”

Nia had still been safely locked away in the basement of the Commander's tower when they had seen Rhea. It was long before they knew the Azgeda had the weapons from the Mountain Men, and long before Lexa knew the true depths of the Yujleda's betrayal. Yet she already knew to send Rhea to be near Polis for the battle.

“I knew there was a chance the nightbloods would be the Ice Nation's real target. With them dead they would only need to assassinate me for Ontari to take the title of Heda.”

It struck her how incredible the other woman was. Every plan she made seemed to have another one tucked inside it. For each move Nia made, Lexa seemed to have a counter move sitting in the wings ready to deploy. She was astounding.

“Luna could have taken your place as Heda.” Clarke suggested.

Anya laughed from beside her. “Luna would sooner flee again than be Commander. The woman is a coward.”

Lexa ignored the jibe at her fellow nightblood. Her dark green eyes looked around the cluster of horses instead, watching the last of Echo's followers mount up.

We stop for nothing!” The Commander called to the group. “Now, ride!”

By the time Polis had come into view, their horses were foaming at the mouth and panting from the intensity of the journey. They had ridden them hard and it was a wonder to Clarke that only three of them had fallen on the way.

Thick, black smoke was billowing from streets and the trees that weaved between them. In the tree tops, Clarke could see the dancing orange and yellow flames as the fires raged.

“She's trying to smoke them out the city!” Anya cried above the noise of their still running horses.

“We carry on!” The Commander shouted back as they hit the paved ground of Polis's main street.

It was only once they were close to the centre of the city that their horses were finally allowed to slow. Smoke was hanging heavy in the air, the arid stench making it difficult for Clarke to breathe.

Evidence of the earlier skirmishes between Trikru and Azgeda armies lay on either side of the pathway. Bullet holes littered the small buildings around them, but it was the bodies that gave away the true horror of what had happened. It wasn't just warriors that lay slain in the street. It was the bodies of the citizens of Polis too. The old and young alike had been shot down by Nia's gun wielding army. They had been completely defenceless.

“It's too quiet.” Anya muttered as she turned in her saddle.

Octavia scoffed. “Her whole army just got surrounded by a smaller one, she probably didn't even think to set any traps.”

“The Queen of Azgeda is no fool.” Echo bit back, her lip snarling and Clarke wondered how much of her sharp defence was part of the indoctrinated life she lived under Queen Nia.

“No, but her people are apparently traitors-” Octavia begun to taunt back, but she didn't manage to finish.

“Enough!” Lexa snapped at them both. “Nia would never leave the back of her army so open.”

Clarke looked at the deserted streets around them. It seemed impossible that just a few short weeks ago the streets had been full of such vibrant life. The sounds of hundreds of people living and breathing, making up the very heart of the city were gone. Polis was no longer alive.

“Maybe she hasn't,” the blonde mused as they passed another boarded up house. “Maybe we just need to get-”

A gunshot rung out in the quiet street and suddenly Lincoln's horse was dropping onto its side completely lifeless.

“Lincoln!” Octavia shouted as the man cried out.

“No, get back!” He called frantically before she could try and help him. The full weight of the horse was crushing against his leg and his neck strained as he cried out in pain again.

Before any of them could move, another shot quickly ricochetted off the building beside Lexa, sending concrete dust spraying up into the air. The next shot was closer and Clarke's horse fell to its knees as a bullet lodged into its body.

Quickly throwing herself off the animal, Clarke ducked behind the building beside Lincoln. More gunshots filled the street and the blonde watched the other members of the party throw themselves behind buildings and out of the shooters path. Lexa and Anya were trapped on the other side of the path, the pair of them frantically discussing what Clarke presumed was a plan to take down the shooter.

The screeches of the riderless horses filled the air, the animals rearing wildly before fleeing the sound of gunfire. Clarke's horse wasn't so lucky. The bullet had hit the animals front and with its eyes wide in terror the animal wheezed and kicked uselessly in attempt to right itself.

A second later its struggling stopped. A bullet caught it straight in the neck.

“We've got to help him.” Octavia said desperately as she watched Lincoln fruitlessly trying to move the horse off himself.

Clarke checked the loaded clip that was in her gun. “I'll cover you. You-” She ordered the former Azgeda warriors that had ducked behind the same building as her. “Help Octavia get him out.”

Yes, Wanheda.” They replied diligently.

Anya and Lexa had stopped their debating, both of them looking at her questioningly.

“On three.” Clarke clicked the safety off her gun and prepared to make the run. “One.” Her eyes made contact with Lexa. “Two.” The brunette was shaking her head, her bright green eyes widening as she caught on to what Clarke was planing. “Three!”

Jumping up from her crouched position, the blonde quickly stepped out into the street. Two more bullet came firing at her, the little pieces of metal whizzing past her as they missed their target. Instantly, Clarke began firing in the direction the shots had been coming from.

“Clarke!” Lexa shouted and with the barest tilt of her head, Clarke could see Anya holding the woman back. Both of the older woman's arms were wrapped around her former seconds body as she pulled against her.

The dead horse moved easily under the collective force of the three warriors that had followed Octavia. There were only a couple more bullets left and Clarke could feel her palm starting to sweat as Octavia puled Lincoln out from underneath the animal.

One. The bullet hit the building in the distance.

Two. The hollow thunk of the bullet burying into wood resounded into the alleyway.

Three. The gun in her hand clicked uselessly.

With the chamber empty, the blonde quickly dove back behind the building. A hail of bullets erupted from the street behind her, each shot wedging itself into the dirt as the shooter fired erratically.

“I'm fine.” Lincoln tried to reassure Octavia, and Clarke turned her head in time to see him pressing his lips against his lovers.

It was only brief, but Clarke felt a pang in her gut at the sight. Their love was in the open. When they were reunited they could find the comfort they needed in each others touch. Looking back at the other side of the street to seek out Lexa, Clarke creased her brow. “Where the hell did Echo go?”

Just as the question left her lips the gunshots stopped. Clarke fumbled with a fresh clip in her hand and reloaded her gun. With her back pressed against the rough concrete behind her, the blonde tried to listen to any movement on the street.

Footsteps were quickly approaching them and once again her eyes sought out Lexa's. The woman nodded her head solemnly, her hand clenching around her sword.

There would only be one chance to make the shot. One opportunity for her to down the shooter before they finished the job and killed them all. Clicking the safety off again, Clarke swung around the corner and prepared to shoot the approaching enemy-

The blonde gasped when she realised who was running towards them.

“Go!” Echo shouted to her, the enemy's rifle still in her hands. “We'll deal with the shooters. They don't know we follow a new leader.”

If anyone from the Ice Nation saw Echo and her fellow warriors running towards them, they wouldn't think nothing of it. They would be taken down before they even realised they had been betrayed.

Clarke felt a hand squeeze at her own, the touch barely lasting a second. Lexa was standing beside her, her body so close that Clarke could feel the warmth rolling off it.

“Azgeda will never accept you back if you do this.” The Commander pointed out.

Echo nodded before throwing the rifle to the ground. “It has already been done.”

The Commander lifted her head. “Then we continue to the tower as planned.”

All the warriors around her began to file out into the streets, each heading in a different direction.

“Echo!” Clarke called before the woman could run too far. She jogged to quickly catch up, well aware that every second was a delay they couldn't afford. “Thank you.”

The warrior looked taken aback, her eyes squinting as if she was expecting Clarke to take her gratitude away. “It is our sworn duty, Wanheda.”

The plaza in front of the tower was a battleground. But it was nothing like the well formed battleground the Commander had presided over. There was no ring of warriors pinning the Azgeda forces into submission. No cover fire from their flanks.

Instead there was only chaos.

Gunshots fired in from the sides and Clarke hoped with every shred of her being that Echo and her followers would take the shooters down quickly.

“Keep pushing forwards. Do not look back and do not wait.” Anya ordered. “We meet at the base of the tower.”

“May we meet again.” Clarke muttered without thinking.

All eyes fell to her and Lexa nodded slowly. “May we meet again.”

Lincoln and Octavia took off first, the tall man preferring his right leg as he ran towards the battle.

“Clarke, stay with me.” Lexa demanded, her hand gripping onto her wrist before they began their own run. Anya was right behind them, her snarling breaths getting deeper with every stride they took.

Closing her eyes, Clarke pushed through the wall of warriors in front of them, feeling Anya's hand twisting into the hem of her shirt.

She was wholly unprepared for what awaited them inside the mass of warriors.

Bodies moved in front of her, and Clarke tried to ignore the bile rising in her throat at the sharp smell of iron that filled the air. People were dying around her, people were dying underneath her.

It was frantic and complete unyielding. In the hours the battle had been raging, bodies had begun piling on the ground where they fell, and Clarke gagged at the feel of them underneath her.

Squeezing through the maze of fighting was almost suffocating. It didn't help that bullets were still haphazardly spraying into the battle, the jackets of metal hitting Rhea's and Nia's warriors without distinction.

Clarke gasped as an elbow lodged into her ribs, jolting Anya's grip from her top. “Keep moving!” The General yelled, her voice close to Clarke.

Heda!” A voice shouted and suddenly Clarke was having to catch herself as Lexa tugged her downwards. The dead eyes of an Ice Nation warrior looked at her from the ground, his jagged scarred tattoos covered in his own blood from the cleaving wound on his head.

Blades clashed about her, the high pitched scrapping of metal setting her teeth on edge. Clarke looked up to see the Commander swiping her swords at two Azgeda warriors. Despite their advantage of numbers the woman dominated every strike, her swords twisting around her to slit the throat of the one closest to her. The next fell quickly. It was with equal awe and horror that Clarke watched the Commander grip onto the back of his head and slam it into the upright blade of her previously defeated opponent.

“We need to keep moving!” The brunette called from above her, and Clarke grabbed onto her outstretched bloody hand to pull herself back up again.

Clarke frantically searched the crowd for her as Lexa pulled her onwards. Anya wasn't there, she was nowhere to be seen, she was gone.

“Where's Anya?!” She cried above the sound of battle.

“We need to keep moving!” Lexa repeated, her hand gripping Clarke's even harsher.

The rearing of a horse sounded from in front of them and the blonde couldn't help smiling with relief at the strong form of Rhea sitting a top it.

Make a path for your Commander!” She ordered as her sword swung down and into another warrior.

The men and women around her roared in response, their spears and blades turning outwards. It took a few moments, but Clarke quickly saw the forming of the path.

This way!” And this time it was her pulling on Lexa's arm.

Both of them sped down the small clearing, the gap being pressed in by Nia's forces as they gunned for the prize of killing their Heda.

A bullet whizzed past the blonde, quickly followed by another and Clarke knew her and Lexa were now the targets. The third shot found a mark.

One of Rhea's warriors stumbled backwards.

She was young, her height still short and her cheeks still round with youth. She was also dying.

Blood was spilling from the girls chest, her hands desperately trying to cover the wound. Clarke wanted to stop. She could help her. She wanted to help her.

“Clarke, there's nothing we can do!” Lexa implored from behind her. “We have to go!”

The girl continued to stare at her for a few beats longer before she was falling to her knees. “Wanheda-” She choked. “Run.

Clarke's legs moved under Lexa's pulling and the battle around her faded into a numbing silence.

People around her were dying. With all her medical knowledge, all her desire to help them survive, there was still nothing she could do to save them. They were dying and there was nothing Clarke could do.

The shadow of the tower fell over them and Lexa quickly pulled her inside the building.

“Look at me.” The woman demanded and the blonde blinked harshly as she tried to adjust to darkened room. “You couldn't do anything, Clarke.”

Over Lexa's shoulder, Clarke could see Lincoln and Octavia, the pair of them wrapped in each other arms.

Before she had the chance to reply to Lexa's comforting words, Rhea's horse was hurtling in behind them. The massive animal snorted when Rhea pulled it to a stop and Clarke gasped when she spotted Anya hanging on behind her.

I found something that belongs to you, Heda.” The older woman quipped as Anya dismounted.

I was doing perfectly fine on my own.” The General mumbled before slamming shut the doors they had just ridden through.

Of course, Anya. I'm sure you meant to have those two Azgeda women on top of you.” Rhea continued to jest, watching Lincoln and Anya work together to set a heavy beam across the doorway.

“The nightbloods.” Clarke interrupted, her throat tightening at the thought of what Nia might have done to them. “Are they-”

“Gone.” Rhea replied before she too dismounted and in that moment the blonde felt like her heart had stopped. “Titus took them the moment we spotted Nia's army.”

Relief washed over her. They were safe and Clarke could see the way Lexa's shoulders relaxed at the news.

Clarke jumped at the bang that suddenly resounded from the door, the heavy wood straining loudly as something pushed against them.

“She's in the tower?” Lexa asked.

“Alone.” Her mother replied stiffly.

Another bang sounded against the doors.

You!” Rhea shouted towards Lincoln and Octavia. “Bring the cage down.

“She wants to make the challenge again.” Lexa speculated, wiping her hand across her cheek and flicking off the mud that came away. “She wants to end this where it all began.”

The blonde felt her brow furrowing. “Where it began?”

“The place her son died.” Lexa explained. “The place the Azgeda's hope of becoming the bearer of the next Commander was destroyed.”

The cage above them started descending, the heavy metal clicking and groaning under years of use.

“Who will be your witness?” Anya questioned and the blonde didn't miss the way the woman subtly stepped forwards.

The door behind them shuddered again.

“Wanheda.” Lexa answered immediately, but her gaze was still trained on the door, almost daring it to buckle under the weight of the Azgeda assault.

Rhea looked surprised, her single eye darting between the two of them. “You are sure?”

Lexa nodded and finally looked at her mother again. “The decision has been made.”

The older woman continued to study her daughter for a moment longer before relenting. “Then go.” And at her prompting, the cage crashed into place.

Anya followed them, watching them both as they stepped inside. “Nia is ageing.” The General stated. “She will not be able to fight for long.”

“I know.” Lexa calmly replied.

From beneath them the chains began clicking into place as Octavia and Lincoln reset the elevator. Apparently happy that the pair were readying the device sufficiently, Rhea too stepped towards them.

“You do not need luck to win this fight, Heda.” Rhea informed her daughter, her tone strong. “Nia has been away from battle for too long and this is what you've trained your whole life for.”

“Thank you,” Lexa paused for only the briefest moment, but Clarke still saw the uncertainty that flashed across the brunette's face. “Rhea.”

“It has been an honour to serve you,” Rhea paused too, her jaw grinding in a way that Clarke wholly associated with her daughter. “Lexa.”

The clicking of chains suddenly stopped, effectively ending what was possibly the only parental moment Rhea and Lexa had shared in years.

“It's ready!” Octavia's voice called from beneath them.

Anya pulled down the thick grating. “Keep her safe, Sky girl.”

Clarke nodded. “Don't let anyone else kill you, Anya.”

A laugh puffed out from the other woman. “May we meet again.”

“Raise the cage!” Rhea called out, her eye once again studying Clarke. “You are a curious thing, Wanheda.”

With a jerk the the elevator started to move, the old metal scrapping as it began its slow ascent to the top floor. Clarke watched both Anya and Rhea until the ground floor disappeared from sight completely.

Clarke couldn't help sucking in a breath at the sound of gunfire that erupted from outside. The sight of the dying Trikru warrior flashed across her vision again. She had been so close, and her eyes so wide with fear, but Clarke hadn't done a thing to help her.


The blonde shook her head and tried to blink back her misty eyes. “I didn't- I didn't do anything to help her.”

It was strange to compare it to Mount Weather, but once again the utter helplessness she felt at the gates of the Mountain was flowing through her.

“That wasn't your fault. We had to get inside the tower.” Lexa tried to comfort, her hands tucking behind her back as she stood in front of the blonde. Clarke knew she was right, she knew that logically there was nothing she could have done in the middle of a battlefield with bullets still raining down at them. Maybe they could have pulled her inside though, maybe Rhea could have gone out to-

“You want to save everyone, Clarke. You want to fix everything, but you can't.” Lexa had said those words to her before, back when Clarke had been too scared to admit her worry had been for more than just her people. “Sometimes sacrifices have to be made.”


The word bit at Clarke like the angry wound on her arm.

All they seemed to do was sacrifice for the greater good. For their people . For everyone but themselves.

But what else was there to do? What would they have left if they didn't fight for the sake of those they loved?

She could hide away like Luna did, like she herself had tried to do. Isolating herself from the world and pretending that peace could come without a cost, but it was a lie. Clarke had sacrificed the lives of her people when she pulled the lever on the dropship, the blast killing not only Anya's warriors, but her own people that she knew were still trapped outside. She had sacrificed Finn, the man she had loved, for peace with the Grounders. She had sacrificed her own morality for her people when she chose to take the lives of the Mountain Men.

Sometimes your only choice is sacrifice, even if it's the person you've come to-” Lexa cut herself off, her mouth snapping shut as if she realised what it was she was about to say.

Lexa had sacrificed too. She had sacrificed her own thirst for revenge after Costia's death when she let Azgeda join the coalition. She had sacrificed her life to lead her people. She had been willing to sacrifice Clarke to protect her people. Lexa had been willing to sacrifice her love for the sake of her people when she knew it could throw away the faith they had in her.

They had both sacrificed and they had both hurt and the both deserved better than that.

“I love you.”

Clarke hadn't meant to say it, but the thought had been so overwhelming-

Lexa's mouth was suddenly on hers, the brunette's whole body pressing her up against the rough interior of the cage. The usually gentle caress of Lexa's lips was replaced with something far more primal and Clarke couldn't help losing herself in the feeling.

Their tongues slid against one another, their hands tangled into already mused locks and their bodies rocked together in complete synchronicity. It was raw, and it was frantic, and it was everything that Clarke was feeling and more.

She loved her.

She loved Lexa.

And Clarke knew it was more than just her heart. She loved Lexa with every fibre of her being. Kisses and caresses would never be enough. Words would never be enough. She loved her so wholly and completely that wasn't sure she would ever be able to quite describe it.

Lexa was home. She was the place that would accept her back with open arms and a warm heart. She was the place that made her feel safe.

They were panting by the time they pulled away from each other.

“I love you too.” Lexa whispered, her green eyes frantically searching the blonde's face.

Clarke swallowed, her heart pounding in her chest at her lovers confession. “Lexa-”

“No, it's okay, you don't have to say it again-” Pushing forwards again, Clarke cut off the other woman before she could continue, before she could try and protest what Clarke needed to tell her.

It was only when Lexa started to pliantly kiss her again that Clarke pulled back.

“I love you.” Clarke confessed quietly, her words filling the cold space of the cage they were in. “I love you, Lexa kom Trikru.”

There were tears pooling in Lexa's eyes, and Clarke knew the same emotions were reflected on her own face. “This was never meant to happen.”

The blonde couldn't help the burst of laughter that left her mouth, the sound catching in her throat. “Sorry about that.”

“The Commander of the Twelve clans was never meant to fall in love with a Sky person.”

“Maybe she was. Maybe this was fate.” Sighing against Lexa's lips, Clarke pressed a slow kiss to them. “Maybe this was all fate.”

The cage around them started to shudder and with a reluctant look on her face, Lexa pulled away from her.

“Are you going to tell me you might die?” Clarke asked when the brunette pushed up the grating.

“No.” She replied, her head shaking slightly. “Not this time. This time I will live. For you Clarke kom Skaikru, I will live.”

Threading her fingers through the brunette's, Clarke smiled. Despite everything that was about to happen, she would take the comfort the touch afforded her. She would give Lexa that same comfort.

Cautiously they walked together through the empty hallway and towards the throne room. It felt like weeks had passed since Clarke had walked the halls of the tower. Without the burning lanterns and candles lining the walls the whole place felt lifeless, a mere shadow of the beacon of light Clarke had come to see it as.

The doors to the throne room were unguarded, and Lexa only hesitated for the briefest of moments before dropping Clarke's hand and pushing the heavy doors open.

The sound of a single person clapping came from deep within the chamber and Clarke hesitantly stepped into the space behind Lexa.

Nia was sitting upon the throne, her legs carelessly draped over one of the arms. Blood splattered her face and the sword that was resting against the seat was still dripping with it.

“Hail, Commander of the Blood.” Nia spat from her seat on the throne. “And hail the legendary Wanheda.”

“It's over, Nia.” The Commander declared. “Your army is defeated, you've abandoned your warriors in the city and my nightbloods have already fled for safety. You failed.”

In the blink of an eye the former Ice Queen was on her feet, her eyes practically blazing with the hatred they held for Lexa. “Killing you is the only victory I need!”

Lexa scoffed, her confidence practically rolling off her. “Are you issuing the challenge again, Nia?” She goaded.

The other woman smirked before she slowly started to saunter towards them. “Yes. You are challenged again, Heda.”

“Then I accept your challenge, again.” The Commander replied sharply. It was the same exchange they had shared before, a repeat of the time Nia had called her son to fight the Commander for her title. Except this time it would be her, the former Queen of Azgeda that would be fighting to the death against her Heda.

“Lexa?” Clarke asked quietly, but the brunette kept her attention fixed on Nia as she continued to approach.

Clarke barely managed to stop herself from gasping when Nia discarded her coat, throwing the thick fur to the side of the room. The same scars that twisted across the older woman's face covered her bare arms too, the mutilated flesh disappearing beneath the sleeves of her top.

“Remember what I said to you, Clarke.” Lexa muttered quietly, removing her own coat. “Remember it.”

I love you.”

“Would you do the honours, Wanheda.” Nia snarled at her. “I take it the girl is our witness?” She asked, diverting her attention back the Commander.

“You must call a start to the fight.” Lexa provided, her throat bobbing as she swallowed. “And you must not interfere.”

Lexa... I- You can't ask me to do that.” Clarke quietly protested.

It was not a question.” The other woman replied softly.

I'm waiting, Heda.” Nia pushed, her sword twirling in her hand again.

Nodding at the blonde a final time, Lexa unsheathed her own sword and stood opposite the Ice Nation's former Queen.

Unsure of what it was she was meant to do to actually start the fight, Clarke raised her arm uneasily before swiping it down. “Begin.”

The Commander struck first, a roar tearing from her throat as her blade slashed down unsuccessfully at Nia's torso. The older woman stepped back from the blow easily, before swiping her own sword up at Lexa.

They were testing each other. Searching out their opponents reach and power whilst easily dodging the countering strikes.

“You grow slow, Nia.” Lexa goaded when her sword finally made contact with the older woman's skin. Blood spilt freely from the cut across her arm and Nia growled at the sight of it.

Without warning the blade in Nia's hand suddenly jabbed forwards, slicing through the flesh on Lexa's side. The woman barely flinched, even as black blood dripped through the fingers she had pressed across the wound.

“And you grow complacent!” Nia spat back.

Clarke could feel herself trembling. Once again the former Ice Queen went on the attack, her sword trying to find another opening on Lexa's injured side. Black splashes of blood were dotting across the floor and Nia continued to push her advantage.

More strikes were landing on Lexa and the former Ice Queen smiled in glee as more and more of the brunette's blood decorated the floor beneath them.

Lexa was losing.

Hesitantly, Clarke reached for the holster on her hip and pulled out her gun. The older woman's sword sliced into the Commander's arm again and Clarke raised her gun, preparing herself to fire.

Preparing herself to take a life for the first time in months.

“No.” A deep voice suddenly rumbled from behind her, and before Clarke had the chance to turn around a knife was pressing against her throat.

“Let me go, Roan.” Clarke ordered, not daring to struggle.

“Then lower your gun, Wanheda.” Roan replied darkly as the sharp blade nicked at her skin slightly.

“I can't let your mother win.” The blonde implored, her eyes still fixed on Nia and the Commander as they circled each other.

“You cannot interfere in the fight. It is not our way.” He explained and this time Clarke did struggle.

“Screw your way.”

“If you take this victory from Heda, you might as well kill her yourself.” He explained, his hot breath brushing across her cheek. “Our people will not stand for such weakness.”

“You're weak, Commander! You have always been weak!” Nia taunted and Clarke watched Lexa ignore her and slash straight at the woman instead. The strike made contact, but Nia barely flinched as the sword buried itself in her thigh.

“Yet I continue to best you. I continue to thwart every plan you make against me.” With another clash of their swords, Lexa forced Nia backwards her left leg wobbling from the pressure of her new wound. “If I'm weak, then you are nothing. Just like Roch.”

At the sound of her sons name, Nia shrieked.

She will react quickly to emotion.

That's what Lexa had told her the morning Nia had arrived in Polis and it was exactly what the Commander was preying on now.

The older woman raised her sword dangerously high, and even Clarke could see the opening she had left to her torso. The Commander didn't take the obvious choice though. Ducking under the arch of Nia's arm Lexa slammed her free hand into the older woman's wrist and sent her sword clattering to the floor.

With the former Ice Queen disarmed, the Commander drove her fist into her face before hooking her leg behind her to send her crashing to the floor as well.

“It's over, Nia.” Lexa stated calmly whist stepping back from her fallen foe.

“This will never be over, not until you pay for the death of my son and give Azgeda the title we died for!” Nia practically screamed, spit flying from her mouth with her growing anger.

“He wanted to die!” The Commander shouted back and Clarke felt Roan sucking in a breath.

The room was in silence complete silence as Nia blinked up at Lexa in disbelief. “Do not lie about my son.” She finally muttered, the fight almost completely gone from her voice.

“He had to kill Bran.” The name meant nothing to Clarke, but the older woman's face seemed to pale at the mention of it. “He didn't want to live without him.”

“You're lying.” Nia trembled. “You're lying, my son would never fall to such weakness.

Your son wasn't like you. He knew what love was.”

You'll never know the love a mother has for her only son.” Nia sneered.

Behind her, Clarke felt Roan stiffen. It was Roch that Nia loved, the son that would bring the title of Heda to the Azgeda. Not the son that was born without the curse of the nightblood.

The only thing you love is power.” Lexa countered. “It's over, Nia. You've lost.”

Nia's head ducked down and Clarke could see the sharp rise and fall of her shoulders. For a moment it looked like she had surrendered to her fate.

Jus drein jus daun.

Nia suddenly growled and in a instant she was on her feet again. The woman's previously discarded blade was back in her hand and raised in attack as she scrambled towards the Commander.

The brunette dodged effortlessly under the hammering blow of Nia's weapon. It was with a sick fascination that Clarke watched Lexa's blade rise up behind her.

It was over with a single cleave of her sword.

Lexa didn't bother turning around, choosing instead to casually flick the blood off the end of her weapon. Behind her, Nia fell to her knees, her mouth gapping open as she stared at the bloody stump that had once been her hand.

“I said,” the Commander muttered as she finally turned around again and slowly tipped the still frozen woman's chin up with the end of her bloodied sword, “it's over.”


Chapter Text

“Hold her arm up.” Clarke ordered the new King of Azgeda and immediately Roan pulled his mother's handless limb upright.

With shaking hands, the blonde tried to concentrate on the fallen Ice Queen. Adrenaline was still coursing through her body, making her heart beat wildly in her chest.

“You take orders from her now, boy?” Nia grunted out, but neither of them acknowledged the injured woman.

Clarke rotated Nia's arm in Roan's grip until she could get a clear view of the damage Lexa's winning blow had left behind. The force and sharpness of the Commander's blade had created a clean cut across the limb, sheering the hand off completely. Through the blood, Clarke could just see the bright white of the woman's wrist bone.

Even with her body twisted away from Nia, the Commander shorn the hand off perfectly.

“Do you fetch when she orders you to? Do you roll over like a dog?” Nia continued to goad deliriously.

Ignoring his mother's jibes, Roan pushed a piece of his own shirt into Clarke's hand. Clarke quickly folded the material, leaving it wide enough to wrap over the stump that had once been the injured woman's hand.

It didn't surprise Clarke in the least that the former Ice Queen barely flinched when she pushed the coarse material against the bloody stub of her wrist.

“Lexa!” The blonde called behind her.

The Commander had run out the room at Clarke's initial request for cloth to wrap the wound. If Lexa intended to keep Nia alive, then stopping her from bleeding out in the middle of the throne room floor would have to be their priority.

Clarke looked down at the woman, her eyes scouring her body. Nia's face was already beginning to pale, the skin turning ashy and sticky with her own sweat. She was going into shock. Quickly.

“Why are you doing this?” Roan questioned, his eyes looking at the blonde curiously.

“Blood must not have blood.” Clarke distractedly explained. Her fingers were pressed against Nia's neck and with her lips moving in time, counting the pulse.

It was slowing.

Let me go.” Nia muttered, her voice beginning to slur as she slipped into her native tongue. Blue eyes that were once cold and steely began to well with tears. “Let me be with my son.

Bitterness twisted in Clarke's stomach.

Everything she had seen that day. All the pain. All the suffering. All the death. All of it had been because of Nia. All of it because of her own selfish desire to bring the title of Heda to the people of Azgeda.

Before she could stop herself, Clarke was pushing the cloth tighter against Nia's arm. “You don't deserve death .” She seethed, ignoring the woman's surprised whimper of pain. “ You're going to live knowing you failed.”

The door to the throne room pushed open behind them, forcing Clarke to loosen her grip on Nia's arm. As best she could, Clarke turned her head just enough to see Anya and Lexa entering with two women she had never seen before.

The two mystery women quickly huddled beside Nia and it took the blonde's frazzled mind a moment to realise they were both healers.

With the older woman being taken care of, Clarke's gaze sought out Anya and Lexa once more.

From her position on the floor, Clarke could see the Commander's hand tightly clenched around the hilt her sword. There was still a frenzied energy practically rolling off the young woman, and Clarke wondered how much longer Lexa could keep it up.

Anya didn't look much better. Dirt and blood were now covering virtually every part of the woman, whilst her hair had been become a tangled mess of leaves and mud. The leer she was giving Nia had Clarke fearing that she was about to lunge across the room and kill her.

The General retreats into the tower.” Nia commented slowly, her unsteady gaze looking over Clarke's shoulder.

“The great Queen Nia of Azgeda.” Anya scoffed, her arms crossing. “Haven't you heard?”

Heard what, girl?” The strength returned to Nia's face for a moment before her head lulled back against the floor at the gentle push from one of the healers.

It was only when Clarke heard one of them drop a small tin onto the floor that she caught on to what Anya was implying.

“The gunfire has stopped.” She realised. “We won.”

Slowly, the cage crept back down to ground level.

It was only when she and Lexa had stepped back into the lift together that some of the frantic energy started to slip away from them both. Lexa had taken longer to calm down though. Even in the cage, her hand had continued to clench around the hilt of her sword, and it was only when Clarke started to gently tap at the back of her hand that her grip started to loosen.

“Victory is ours.” The brunette muttered with her eyes fixed on the grating.

They had won. Nia and her army had been defeated.


It didn't feel like a victory. To Clarke, it felt akin to the moment she had defeated the Mountain. Her people had been safe, but her heart had ached for all she had lost to win.

“Does it always feel like this?” Clarke asked.

Lexa looked at her curiously for a moment before reaching out to squeeze at Clarke's hand. “For those who care, yes.” She eventually replied.

Silence lapsed between them once more and Clarke tried to clear her mind of the darkening thoughts that were threatening to drag her back to the same pit of despair she had felt at Mount Weather.

It was when the cage finally passed the first floor that Clarke spotted Rhea waiting for them. Subconsciously, she straightened her back and released Lexa's hand. There were more scrapes over the older woman's skin than there had been before they ascended. The sword in her hand wasn't the same one Clarke had seen her with before they entered the tower either.

“It is done?” The woman asked as soon as the cage shuddered to halt.

“Nia has been taken care of.” Lexa replied, throwing up the grating so they could both exit.

It hadn't been long after Clarke's realisation of their complete victory that Nia had finally lost consciousness. The strain the fallen Ice Queen's body was feeling from the shock of her injury was simply too much for the older woman to handle. Lexa had left Anya to watch over her. She had already slipped from their grasp once and Clarke knew they couldn't afford her escaping again.

Rhea studied her daughter for a moment. “You did not kill her.”

“No.” Lexa revealed. The other woman's features tensed and Clarke watched her jaw click to the side. “I cut off her sword hand. The fight was won.”

“A missing hand will not make her any less dangerous.” Rhea warned darkly.

“I will not let her become a martyr.” The brunette replied, her tone sharp. “The decision has been made.”

From the intensity of Rhea's stare, Clarke thought she was about to argue with her daughter. She was surprised when her head bowed instead. “Of course, Heda.”